Complete Annotated Text
The following version of The Merchant of Venice
is based on the text in the authoritative
1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The
text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as
"Enter" and "Exit."
Please note that the character list (dramatis personae) below includes descriptions and
comments that did not appear in the original manuscript of the play or in the Oxford edition.
Antonio: A merchant of Venice who borrows money from the Jewish moneylender Shylock on behalf
of his friend Bassanio. Antonio agrees to pay a pound of flesh if he
defaults on the loan. Antonio is the protagonist (main character) in the comic plot.
Shylock: Wealthy Jewish moneylender who seeks revenge for ill treatment
by Christians. Because he is a tragic figure—and the most compelling
character in the play—the drama takes on overtones of tragedy. Shylock is the protagonist (main character) in the tragic plot.
Portia: Wealthy heiress wooed by many suitors at her estate, Belmont. Although often described
by Shakespeare interpreters as noble, upright, and benevolent, a close
reading of the play reveals her as a bigot who despises Jews and blacks.
Bassanio: Friend of Antonio. Bassanio loves Portia but lacks money to woo and win her.
Duke of Venice: Ruler who sits as the judge in the trial of Antonio, who defaults on his loan from Shylock.
Prince of Morocco, Prince of Arragon: Suitors of Portia.
Nerissa: Portia's maid.
Gratiano: Friend of Bassanio. He loves Nerissa.
Salanio, Salarino, Salerio: Friends of Antonio and Bassanio.
Jessica: Shylock's rebellious daughter.
Lorenzo: Jessica's suitor and later her husband.
Tubal, Chus: Lorenzo's Jewish friends. Chus has no speaking part.
Launcelot Gobbo: Clown and Shylock's servant.
Old Gobbo: Launcelot's father.
Leonardo: Bassanio's servant.
Balthasar, Stephano: Portia's servants.
Leah: Wife of Shylock. She has no speaking role.
Margery: Wife of Old Gobbo. She is Launcelot's mother. Margery has no speaking role.
Minor Characters: Magnificoes of Venice, officers of the court of justice, gaoler (jailer), servants, attendants.
Text of the Merchant of VeniceAnnotations by Michael J. Cummings
Act 1, Scene 1: Venice. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 1, Scene 3: Venice. A public place.
Act 2, Scene 1: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 2, Scene 2: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 3: Venice. A room in Shylock's house.
Act 2, Scene 4: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 5: Venice. In front of Shylock's house.
Act 2, Scene 6: Venice. In front of Shylock's house.
Act 2, Scene 7: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 2, Scene 8: Venice. A street.
Act 2, Scene 9: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 3, Scene 1: Venice. A street.
Act 3, Scene 2: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 3, Scene 3: Venice. A street.
Act 3, Scene 4: Belmont. A room in Portia's house.
Act 3, Scene 5: Belmont. A garden.
Act 4, Scene 1: Venice. A court of justice.
Act 4, Scene 2: Venice. A street.
Act 5, Scene 1: Belmont. The avenue to Portia's house.
Act 1, Scene 1
Venice. A street
Enter ANTONIO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.
ANTONIO: In sooth [truth], I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, 5
What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn;
And such a want-wit sadness makes of me,
That I have much ado [trouble; bother] to know myself.
SALARINO: Your mind is tossing on the ocean; 10
There, where your argosies [merchant ships laden with valuable cargo] with portly [wind-filled] sail,—
Like signiors [signors: Italian gentlemen; misters] Iand rich burghers [businessmen] on the flood,
Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,—
Do overpeer the petty traffickers,
[on the flood . . . traffickers: passing by in large ships, as if in a pageant, that look down on smaller vessels of lesser men]
That curtsy to them, do them reverence, 15
As they fly by them with their woven wings [sails].
SALANIO: Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth,
[venture forth: fleet of ships making money for me]
The better part of my affections would
Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still [constantly]
Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind; 20
[Plucking . . . wind: Plucking a long blade of grass and holding it up to determine the wind direction]
Peering in maps for ports, and piers, and roads [anchorage sites];
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.
SALARINO: My wind, cooling my broth, 25
Would blow me to an ague, when I thought
What harm a wind too great might do at sea.
[My wind . . . sea: Blowing my breath
to cool a bowl of hot broth would give me a fever, for I would be
reminded of what harm a great wind can to do ships.]
I should not see the sandy hour-glass run
But I should think of shallows and of flats [sandbars],
And see my wealthy Andrew [ship] dock’d in sand 30
Vailing [lowering] her high-top lower than her ribs [supports on the sides of ships]
To kiss her burial [sinking]. Should I go to church
And see the holy edifice of stone,
And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,
Which touching but my gentle vessel’s side 35
Would scatter all her spices on the stream,
Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks;
[Should I go . . . silks: Going to a
church built of stone would make me think of dangerous rocks gashing
the side of my ship and releasing its cargo, including spices and silks.]
And, in a word, but even now worth this,
And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought
[even now . . . nothing: One moment, the ship has a fortune on board; the next moment, it has nothing.]
To think on this, and shall I lack the thought 40
That such a thing bechanc’d [unlucky] would make me sad?
But tell not me: I know Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.
ANTONIO: Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, 45
Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year:
Therefore, my merchandise makes me not sad.
SALARINO: Why, then you are in love.
ANTONIO: Fie, fie! [Expression of dismay or disapproval] 50
SALARINO: Not in love neither? Then let’s say you are sad,
Because you are not merry: and ’twere as easy
For you to laugh and leap, and say you are merry,
Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus [in Roman mythology, a god with faces on the front and back of his head]
Nature hath fram’d strange fellows in her time: 55
Some that will evermore peep through their eyes
And laugh like parrots at a bag-piper,
And other of such vinegar aspect
That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile,
Though Nestor [in ancient Greek mythology, a wise old man] swear the jest be laughable. 60
Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO.
SALANIO: Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,
Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare ye well:
We leave you now with better company.
SALARINO: I would have stay’d till I had made you merry, 65
If worthier friends had not prevented me.
[If worthier . . . me: If your worthier friends had not come along]
ANTONIO: Your worth is very dear in my regard.
I take it, your own business calls on you,
And you embrace the occasion to depart.
SALARINO: Good morrow, my good lords. 70
BASSANIO: Good signiors [signors: Italian gentlemen; misters] both, when shall we laugh? say when?
You grow exceeding strange: must it be so?
[Good signiors . . . be so?: Good sirs
(Salarino and Salanio), when are we going to get together to have a merry
time? You've been strangers to me lately. Must it be so?]
SALARINO: We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours. [Exeunt SALARINO and SALANIO.
[We'll . . . yours: We'll get together with you whenever you please.]
[Exeunt: Stage direction indicating that two or more characters are leaving the stage]
LORENZO: My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio,
We too will leave you; but, at dinner-time, 75
I pray you, have in mind where we must meet.
BASSANIO: I will not fail you.
GRATIANO: You look not well, Signior Antonio;
You have too much respect upon the world:
[You have . . . world: You are too preoccupied with the business world.]
They lose it that do buy it with much care: 80
Believe me, you are marvellously [greatly] chang’d.
ANTONIO: I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one.
GRATIANO: Let me play the
fool [jester; comedian; merrymaker]: 85
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
[With mirth . . . come: Let me laugh and make merry as the years pass.]
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster? 90
[Sit . . . alabaster: Sit around like a stone statue of his grandfather]
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice [depression; sadness]
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks—
There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond, 95
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
[men whose visages . . . entertain: Men whose faces scum over like stagnant water and who remain quiet and aloof]
With purpose to be dress’d in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
[With purpose . . . conceit: Such men
get a reputation for spending all their time trying to be wise, grave,
and lost in thought.]
As who should say, ‘I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!’ 100
[As who . . . bark!: These men might say, "I am a wise man. When I speak, everyone should keep quiet.]
O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools. 105
I’ll tell thee more of this another time:
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool-gudgeon, this opinion.
[But fish . . . opinion: But don't go
through life trying to attract attention with a melancholy
demeanor. You'll only attract the attention offools whose
opinions are not worth your time. Note: a gudgeon is a fish that is
easy to catch.]
Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well a while:
I’ll end my exhortation after dinner. 110
LORENZO: Well, we will leave you then till dinner-time.
I must be one of these same dumb-wise men,
For Gratiano never lets me speak.
GRATIANO: Well, keep me company but two years moe [more],
Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue. 115
ANTONIO: Farewell: I’ll grow a talker for this gear.
[Farewell . . . gear: Well, now that I've heard your advice, I'll be more outgoing and talkative.]
GRATIANO: Thanks, i’ faith; for silence is only commendable
In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible. [Exeunt GRATIANO and LORENZO.
[neat's tongue dried: Dried ox tongue (food)].
[maid . . . vendible: Woman without marketable charms; old maid.]
ANTONIO: Is that anything now? [Is what he saying really true?]
BASSANIO: Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more
than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid
in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and,
when you have them, they are not worth the search.
[Gratiano speaks . . . search: Gratiano talks a lot but doesn't really say anything worthwhile.]
In the following passage, Antonio asks Bassanio about a young lady
whom Bassanio wishes to woo. But Bassanio says he is in debt and thus lacks
the money to carry on a proper courtship. Antonio then says he will
provide his friend the financial means to woo the lady.
ANTONIO: Well, tell me now, what lady is the same
To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
That you to-day promis’d to tell me of?
BASSANIO: ’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
How much I have disabled mine estate, 125
By something showing a more swelling port
Than my faint means would grant continuance:
[By something . . . continuance: By spending money lavishly. Eventually I drove myself into debt.]
Nor do I now make moan to be abridg’d
From such a noble rate; but my chief care
Is, to come fairly off from the great debts 130
Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
Hath left me gag’d. To you, Antonio,
[Nor do I . . . gag'd: But I am not
moaning and groaning about having to rein in my spending. What I want
now is to pay off the bills that plunged me deep into debt.]
I owe the most, in money and in love;
And from your love I have a warranty
To unburthen all my plots and purposes 135
How to get clear of all the debts I owe.
[I have . . . owe: I have an obligation to tell you about my plan to clear away all my debts.]
ANTONIO: I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it;
And if it stand, as you yourself still do,
Within the eye of honour, be assur’d,
My purse, my person, my extremest means, 140
Lie all unlock’d to your occasions.
BASSANIO: In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft,
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight
The self-same way with more advised watch,
To find the other forth, and by adventuring both, 145
I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof,
Because what follows is pure innocence.
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth,
That which I owe is lost; but if you please
To shoot another arrow that self way 150
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt,
As I will watch the aim, or to find both,
Or bring your latter hazard back again,
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
[In my school-. . . the first: In my
school days, whenever I lost an arrow while practicing archery, I would
shoot another arrow in the same direction with the same arc, watching
carefully. In so doing, I would often find the first arrow, since the
second arrow would land near it. Here's why I am telling you about this
childhool experience. I owe you a lot of money, but I have lost it--like
the first arrow. But if you shoot another arrow toward what I lost, I
will watch it carefully. I'll certainly be able to get back your arrow
(what you lend me). But if I'm lucky, I'll get back both arrows--that
is, I'll be in the money and again and be able to pay back everything I
ANTONIO: You know me well, and herein spend but time 155
To wind about my love with circumstance;
And out of doubt you do me now more wrong
In making question of my uttermost
Than if you had made waste of all I have:
Then do but say to me what I should do 160
That in your knowledge may by me be done,
And I am prest unto it [ready to help you]: therefore speak.
BASSANIO: In Belmont is a lady richly left [a lady with a large inheritance],
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes 165
I did receive fair speechless messages:
Her name is Portia; nothing undervalu’d
To Cato’s daughter, Brutus’ Portia:
[nothing . . . Portia: The Belmont
Portia is just as virtuous as the Portia who was married to the ancient
Roman senator, Marcus Brutus (84-42 BC).]
Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
For the four winds blow in from every coast 170
Renowned suitors; and her sunny locks
Hang on her temples like a golden fleece;
Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos’ Strond,
And many Jasons come in quest of her.
[her sunny . . . quest of her: Her
blond hair resembles the golden fleece. In Greek mythology, the fleece
was sheared from a golden ram that was sacrificed to Zeus at Colchis, a
region along the Black Sea. The Greek hero Jason retrieved the fleece
and took it back to his homeland.]
O my Antonio! had I but the means 175
To hold a rival place with one of them,
I have a mind presages me such thrift [profit],
That I should questionless be fortunate.
ANTONIO: Thou knowest that all my fortunes are at sea;
Neither have I money, nor commodity 180
To raise a present sum: therefore go forth;
Try what my credit can in Venice do:
That shall be rack’d [stretched], even to the uttermost,
To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia.
Go, presently inquire, and so will I, 185
Where money is, and I no question make
To have it of my trust or for my sake. [Exeunt.
[To have . . . trust: To make an arrangement to borrow it]
Act 1, Scene 2
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
PORTIA: By my troth [faith; faithfulness], Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.
NERISSA: You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same
abundance as your good fortunes are: and yet, for aught I see [from what I observe], they are as sick that surfeit with [surfeit with: indulge in] too much as they that starve with nothing. It is no mean [small] happiness therefore, to be seated in the mean [to be satisfied with basic needs]: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer.
[superfluity . . . longer: Living the high life will give you white hairs sooner than living simply and frugally.]
PORTIA: Good sentences [wise sayings; proverbs] and well pronounced. 5
NERISSA: They would be better if well followed.
PORTIA: If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do,
chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It
is a good divine [clergyman] that follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done [what is the right thing to do],
than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may
devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree:
such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good
counsel the cripple. [such a hare . . . cripple: Hot-blooded young people are like a hare in that they jump over good advice without taking it.] But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband [But . . . husband: But this reasoning won't help me to choose a husband]. O me, the word ‘choose!’ I may neither choose whom I would [choose whom I like]
nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed
by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot
choose one nor refuse none?
NERISSA: Your father was ever virtuous, and holy men at their death have good inspirations; therefore, the lottery [drawing] that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning [the right chest, the one containing a portrait of Portia]
chooses you, will, no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who
you shall rightly love. But what warmth is there in your affection
towards any of these princely suitors that are already
PORTIA: I pray thee, over-name them [repeat their names], and as thou namest them, I will describe them; and, according to my description, level at my affection.
NERISSA: First, there is the Neapolitan prince [prince from Naples, Italy]. 10
PORTIA: Ay, that’s a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but talk of
his horse; and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts
that he can shoe him himself. I am much afeard my lady his mother
played false with a smith. [I am . . . smith: I think his mother must have gone to bed with a blacksmith.]
NERISSA: Then is there the County [Count] Palatine.
PORTIA: He doth nothing but frown, as who should say, ‘An [if]
you will not have me, choose.’ He hears merry tales, and smiles not: I
fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so
full of unmannerly sadness in his youth. I had rather be married to a
death’s-head with a bone in his mouth than to either of these. God
defend me from these two!
NERISSA: How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?
PORTIA: God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man. In
truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker; but, he! why, he hath a horse
better than the Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than the
Count Palatine; he is every man in no man; if a throstle [thrush, a songbird]
sing, he falls straight a-capering; he will fence with his own shadow:
if I should marry him, I should marry twenty husbands. If he would
despise me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to madness, I shall
never requite him.
[If he love . . . requite
him: No matter
how much love he lavished on me, I would not return it.]
NERISSA: What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baron of England?
PORTIA: You know I say nothing to him, for he understands not me,
nor I him: he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; and you will
come into the court and swear that I have a poor pennyworth in the
English. He is a proper [handsome] man’s picture, but, alas! who can converse with a dumb-show [with such a bozo]? How oddly he is suited! I think he bought his doublet [close-fitting sleeveless jacket] in Italy, his round hose [breeches extending down to the knees] in France, his bonnet in Germany, and his behaviour every where.
NERISSA: What think you of the Scottish lord, his neighbour?
PORTIA: That he hath a neighbourly charity in him, for he borrowed
[suffered; received] a box of the ear of the Englishman, and swore he
would pay him again [pay him back] when he was able: I think the Frenchman became his
surety and sealed under for another.
[the Frenchman . . . another: The Frenchman agreed to help the Scotsman and sealed his pledge with another slap to the Scot.]
NERISSA: How like you the young German, the Duke of Saxony’s
PORTIA: Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and
most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk: when he is best, he is
a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better
than a beast. An [if] the worst fall that ever fell, I hope I shall make
shift [find a way] to go without him.
NERISSA: If he should offer to choose, and choose the right
casket, you should refuse to perform your father’s will, if you should
refuse to accept him.
PORTIA: Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee, set a
deep glass of Rhenish [Rhine] wine on the contrary casket, for, if the devil be
within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do
anything, Nerissa, ere [before] I will be married to a sponge.
NERISSA: You need not fear, lady, the having any of these
lords: they have acquainted me with their determinations; which is,
indeed, to return to their home and to trouble you with no more suit,
unless you may be won by some other sort [way; means] than your father’s imposition
depending on the caskets.
PORTIA: If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as
chaste as Diana, unless I be obtained by the manner of my father’s
will. I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is
not one among them but I dote on his very absence, and I pray God grant
them a fair departure.
[Sybilla: Sybil, a character in the Aeneid,
by Virgil (70-19 BC). Sybil led the Roman hero Aeneas into and out of
the underworld. She was seven hundred years old at the time. When
Aeneas asked how she came to be so old, she told him that the god
Apollo granted her when she was young as many years as there are grains
of sand. However, because she rejected him as a lover, Apollo refused
to grant her eternal youth. As she lived on and on, she also shriveled
and shrank. She told Aeneas that eventually nothing would be left of
her but her voice.]
NERISSA: Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a
Venetian, a scholar and a soldier, that came hither in the company of
the Marquis of Montferrat?
PORTIA: Yes, yes: it was Bassanio; as I think, he was so called.
NERISSA: True, madam: he, of all the men that ever my foolish
eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady.
PORTIA: I remember him well, and I remember him worthy of thy praise.
Enter a Servant. 30
How now! what news?
SERVANT: The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take
their leave; and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the Prince of
Morocco, who brings word the prince his master will be here
PORTIA: If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart
as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach:
if he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I
had rather he should shrive me than wive me.
Come, Nerissa. Sirrah, go before.
Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the
Act 1, Scene 3
Venice. A public Place.
Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK.
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats; well?
[ducats (DUK its): Gold or silver coins once used in Italy, the Netherlands, and some other European countries.]
BASSANIO: Ay, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK: For three months; well? 5
BASSANIO: For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
SHYLOCK: Antonio shall become bound; well?
BASSANIO: May you stead [help] me? Will you pleasure me? Shall I know your answer?
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats, for three months, and Antonio bound.
BASSANIO: Your answer to that. 10
SHYLOCK: Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO: Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
SHYLOCK: Ho, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a good man is
to have you understand me that he is sufficient. Yet his means are in
supposition [not necessarily secure]: he hath an argosy bound to Tripolis [region of northern Africa], another to the Indies; I understand moreover upon the Rialto [an island that was the business center of Venice],
he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he
hath, squandered abroad. But ships are but boards, sailors but men:
there be land-rats and water-rats, land-thieves, and water-thieves,—I
mean pirates,—and then there is the peril of waters, winds, and rocks.
The man is, notwithstanding, sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I
think, I may take his bond.
BASSANIO: Be assured you may.
SHYLOCK: I will be assured I may; and, that I may be assured, I will bethink me [this about this matter]. May I speak with Antonio? 15
BASSANIO: If it please you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK: Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation [body of a pig] which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. [In
the Bible, the gospel of Mark (5:1-17) tells of an exorcism in which
Jesus cast devils out of the body of a man. The devils then entered the
bodies of pigs.]
I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and
so following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray
with you. What news on the Rialto? Who is he comes
BASSANIO: This is Signior Antonio.
SHYLOCK: [Aside.] How like a fawning publican [tax collector who bows and kowtows] he looks! 20
[Aside: Stage direction indicating
that a character is whispering or speaking in a low voice so that
another character (or other characters) cannot hear him. In a stage
performance, however, the actor playing the character speaks loudly
enough for the audience to hear him.]
I hate him for he is a Christian;
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
[But more . . . Venice: But I hate him
more for his foolish practice of lending money without charging
interest. This practice brings down the rate of interest that people
like me can charge. Shylock and other businessmen generally charged an
excessive interest rate.]
If I can catch him once upon the hip, 25
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
[If I . . . bear him: If I can outsmart him, I can turn the tables on him and gain revenge against him and his kind.]
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe, 30
If I forgive him!
BASSANIO: Shylock, do you hear?
SHYLOCK: I am debating of my present store,
And, by the near guess of my memory,
I cannot instantly raise up the gross 35
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft! how many months
Do you desire? [To ANTONIO.] Rest you fair, good signior;
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
ANTONIO: Shylock, albeit I neither lend nor borrow 40
By taking nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
I’ll break a custom. [To BASSANIO.] Is he yet possess’d
How much ye would? [Does he know how much you want?]
SHYLOCK: Ay, ay, three
ANTONIO: And for three months.
SHYLOCK: I had forgot; three months; you told me so.
Well then, your bond; and let me see. But hear you;
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage [at interest]. 50
ANTONIO: I do never use it.
SHYLOCK: When Jacob graz’d his uncle Laban’s sheep,—
This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,
The third possessor: ay, he was the third,— 55
[Jacob was the grandson of Abram, or Abraham. Abraham made Jacob's
father, Isaac, his heir. Isaac, in turn, made Jacob his heir. Thus,
Jacob was--as Shylock says--"the third possessor."
ANTONIO: And what of him? did he take interest?
In the following passage (lines 57-71), Shylock paraphases a story in
Genesis 30:27-43. The story says that, while tending Laban's sheep,
Jacob found a way to develop his own flock without "charging interest"
or stealing from Laban.
SHYLOCK: No; not take interest; not, as you would say,
Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.
When Laban and himself were compromis’d [agreed],
That all the eanlings [baby lambs] that were streak’d and pied [having patchy color] 60
Should fall as Jacob’s hire [Jacob's wages], the ewes, being rank [in heat],
In end of autumn turned to the rams;
And, when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skilful shepherd peel’d me certain wands, 65
And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
Who, then conceiving, did in eaning time
Fall parti-colour’d lambs, and those were Jacob’s.
[The skilful . . . were Jacob's: It was said that a ewe would give
birth to a lamb with a coat resembling whatever she was looking at when
she mated. So Jacob placed in front of them tree branches with the bark
peeled off here and there. Thus, the ewes gave birth to lambs with
streaks and patches here and there. Laban, of course, had agreed that
all sheep with patchy fleeces would be Jacob's.]
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest: 70
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
ANTONIO: This was a venture, sir, that Jacob serv’d for;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway’d and fashion’d by the hand of heaven.
Was this [story] inserted to make interest good [justifiable]? 75
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
SHYLOCK: I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:
But note me, signior.
ANTONIO: Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. 80
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
SHYLOCK: Three thousand ducats; ’tis a good round sum. 85
Three months from twelve, then let me see the rate.
ANTONIO: Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
SHYLOCK: Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated [berated] me
About my moneys and my usances [usury; charging high interest rates]: 90
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance [patience] is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spet [spit] upon my Jewish gaberdine [cloak made of course fabric],
And all for use of that which is mine own. 95
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to then; you come to me, and you say,
‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
You, that did void your rheum [mucus or spit] upon my beard,
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur 100
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit.
[And foot . . . threshold: And kick me as you would a stray dog at your doorstep]
What should I say to you? Should I not say,
‘Hath a dog money? Is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ or
Shall I bend low, and in a bondman’s key [slave's tone], 105
With bated breath, and whispering humbleness,
‘Fair sir, you spet [spit] on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn’d me such a day; another time
You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies 110
I’ll lend you thus much moneys?’
ANTONIO: I am as like to call thee so again,
To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends,—for when did friendship take 115
A breed for barren metal of his friend?—
[when did . . . friend?: When did anyone charge a friend interest for a loan?]
But lend it rather to thine enemy:
Who if he break [fails to pay back the money], thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty.
SHYLOCK: Why, look you,
how you storm!
I would be friends with you, and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stain’d me with,
Supply your present wants, and take no doit
Of usance for my moneys, and you’ll not hear me:
[no doit of usance: Not one cent of interest. A doit was a Dutch coin worth a small amount.]
This is kind I offer. [This is kind of me to make this offer.] 125
ANTONIO: This were kindness.
SHYLOCK: This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day, 130
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me. 135
ANTONIO: Content, i’ faith: I’ll seal to such a bond,
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO: You shall not seal to such a bond for me:
I’ll rather dwell in my necessity.
[dwell . . . necessity: Remain in debt.]
ANTONIO: Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it: 140
Within these two months, that’s a month before
This bond expires, I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHYLOCK: O father Abram! what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealing teaches them suspect 145
The thoughts of others. Pray you, tell me this;
If he should break his day [fail to pay in time], what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man,
Is not so estimable, profitable neither, 150
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship:
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu [farewell];
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
ANTONIO: Yes, Shylock, I will seal unto this bond. 155
SHYLOCK: Then meet me forthwith at the notary’s;
Give him direction for this merry bond,
And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
See to my house, left in the fearful guard
Of an unthrifty knave, and presently 160
I will be with you.
ANTONIO: Hie thee [Go], gentle Jew. [Exit SHYLOCK.
This Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.
BASSANIO: I like not fair terms and a villain’s mind.
ANTONIO: Come on: in this there can be no dismay; 165
My ships come home a month before the day. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 1
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Flourish of Cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and his Followers; PORTIA, NERISSA, and Others of her Train.
[Flourish of Cornets: Short tune played by cornets to herald the entrance of a royal person, the Prince of Morocco]
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun,
[The shadow'd . . . sun: The black uniform I wear as a servant of the sun]
To whom I am a neighbour and near bred. 5
Bring me the fairest creature northward born,
Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
[Phoebus: In Greek mythology, the name used for Apollo in his role as the sun god]
And let us make incision for your love,
To prove whose blood is reddest [boldest; bravest], his or mine.
I tell thee, lady, this aspect [face; appearance] of mine 10
Hath fear’d [frightened] the valiant: by my love, I swear
The best regarded virgins of our clime [country; region]
Have lov’d it too: I would not change this hue,
Except to steal your thoughts, my gentle queen.
PORTIA: In terms of choice I am not solely led 15
By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes;
Besides, the lottery of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing:
But if my father had not scanted me
And hedg’d me by his wit, to yield myself 20
His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
[But if . . . told you: But if my father had not made me promise to marry the man who won me by a lottery]
Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair
As any comer I have look’d on yet
For my affection.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Even for that I thank you: 25
Therefore, I pray you, lead me to the caskets
To try my fortune. By this scimitar [sword with a curved blade],—
That slew the Sophy [Persian king], and a Persian prince
That won three fields of Sultan Solyman,—
[That won . . . Solyman: That won three battles against the Turkish emperor Suleiman]
I would outstare the sternest eyes that look, 30
Outbrave the heart most daring on the earth,
Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear,
Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey,
To win thee, lady. But, alas the while!
If Hercules and Lichas [servant of Hercules] play at dice 35
Which is the better man, the greater throw
May turn by fortune from the weaker hand:
So is Alcides [another name for Hercules] beaten by his page;
And so may I, blind fortune leading me,
Miss that which one unworthier may attain, 40
And die with grieving.
PORTIA: You must take your chance;
And either not attempt to choose at all,
Or swear before you choose, if you choose wrong,
Never to speak to lady afterward 45
In way of marriage: therefore be advis’d.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Nor will not: come, bring me unto my chance.
PORTIA: First, forward to the temple: after dinner
Your hazard shall be made [You will try your luck].
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Good fortune then! 50
To make me blest or cursed’st among men! [Cornets, and exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 2
Venice. A Street.
Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO.
LAUNCELOT: Certainly my conscience will serve me to run from this Jew
my master. The fiend [devil] is at mine elbow, and tempts me, saying to me,
‘Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot,’ or ‘good Gobbo,’ or ‘good
Launcelot Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away.’ My
conscience says, ‘No; take heed, honest Launcelot; take heed, honest
Gobbo;’ or, as aforesaid, ‘honest Launcelot Gobbo; do not run; scorn
running with thy heels.’ Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack:
‘Via!’ [Go!] says the fiend; ‘away!’ says the fiend; ‘for the heavens, rouse
up a brave mind,’ says the fiend, ‘and run.’ Well, my conscience,
hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me, ‘My honest
friend Launcelot, being an honest man’s son,’—or rather an honest
woman’s son;—for, indeed, my father did something smack [taste], something grow
to, he had a kind of taste; [for, indeed . . . kind of taste: Launcelot's father did something dishonest, but it is not clear what his offense was.]
—well, my conscience says, ‘Launcelot, budge
not.’ ‘Budge,’ says the fiend. ‘Budge not,’ says my conscience.
‘Conscience,’ say I, ‘you counsel well;’ ‘fiend,’ say I, ‘you counsel
well:’ to be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my
master, who, God bless the mark! [God forgive me], is a kind of devil; and, to run away
from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your
reverence [sorry to say], is the devil himself. Certainly, the Jew is the very devil
incarnal [incarnate]; and, in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard
conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew. The fiend
gives the more friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are at
your commandment; I will run.
Enter Old GOBBO, with a basket.
OLD GOBBO: Master young man, you; I pray you, which is the way
to Master Jew’s?
LAUNCELOT: [Aside.] O heavens! this is my true-begotten
father, who, being more than sandblind [partly blind], high-gravel blind [almost totally blind], knows me
not: I will try confusions with him [I will have a little fun with him].
OLD GOBBO: Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to Master Jew’s?
LAUNCELOT: Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but,
at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next
turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s
OLD GOBBO: By God’s sonties [saints], ’twill be a hard way to hit [hard to find]. Can
you tell me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him
or no [still lives with him]?
LAUNCELOT: Talk you of young Master Launcelot?
[Aside.] Mark me now; now will I raise the waters. Talk you of
young Master Launcelot?
OLD GOBBO: No master, sir, but a poor man’s son: his father,
though I say it, is an honest, exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked,
well to live [living an honest life].
LAUNCELOT: Well, let his father be what a’ will, we talk of young Master Launcelot.
OLD GOBBO: Your worship’s friend, and Launcelot, sir.
LAUNCELOT: But I pray you, ergo [therefore], old man, ergo, I beseech you, talk you of young Master Launcelot?
OLD GOBBO: Of Launcelot, an [if] ’t please your mastership. 15
LAUNCELOT: Ergo, Master Launcelot. Talk not of Master
Launcelot, father; for the young gentleman,—according to Fates and
Destinies and such odd sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of
learning,—is, indeed, deceased; or, as you would say in plain terms,
gone to heaven.
[Sisters Three: In Greek mythology,
the three Fates, who controlled the destinies of humans. Their names
were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.]
OLD GOBBO: Marry [By the Blessed Virgin Mary], God forbid! the boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop.
LAUNCELOT: [Aside.] Do I look like a cudgel or a
hovel-post [post supporting a hovel, a small dwelling], a staff or a prop? Do you know me,
OLD GOBBO: Alack [expression of dismay] the day! I know you not, young gentleman: but I
pray you, tell me, is my boy,—God rest his soul!—alive or
LAUNCELOT: Do you not know me, father? 20
OLD GOBBO: Alack, sir, I am sand-blind [partly blind]; I know you not.
LAUNCELOT: Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of
the knowing me: it is a wise father that knows his own child. Well, old
man, I will tell you news of your son. Give me your blessing; truth
will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but, in
the end, truth will out.
OLD GOBBO: Pray you, sir, stand up. I am sure you are not Launcelot, my boy.
LAUNCELOT: Pray you, let’s have no more fooling about it, but
give me your blessing: I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son that
is, your child that shall be.
OLD GOBBO: I cannot think you are my son. 25
LAUNCELOT: I know not what I shall think of that; but I am
Launcelot, the Jew’s man, and I am sure Margery your wife is my
OLD GOBBO: Her name is Margery, indeed: I’ll be sworn, if thou
be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipped might
he be! what a beard hast thou got! thou hast got more hair on thy chin
than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail. [thill: One of two long shafts beteween which a horse is harnessed when it pulls a wagon.]
LAUNCELOT: It should seem then that Dobbin’s tail grows
backward: I am sure he had more hair on his tail than I have on my
face, when I last saw him.
OLD GOBBO: Lord! how art thou changed. How dost thou and thy
master agree? I have brought him a present. How ’gree you
LAUNCELOT: Well, well: but for mine own part, as I have set up
my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground. [Rest was a term used in an old card game, primero, to signify a stake. In Launcelot's sentence, rest suggests that he is betting everything to run away from Shylock.] My
master’s a very Jew: give him a present! give him a halter [noose]: I am
famished in his service; you may tell every finger I have with my ribs. [Notice how my ribs stick out.]
Father, I am glad you are come: give me your present [so that I can give it] to one Master
Bassanio, who, indeed, gives rare new liveries [who outfits his servants with new uniforms]. If I serve not him, I
will run as far as God has any ground. O rare fortune! here comes the
man: to him, father; for I am a Jew, if I serve the Jew any
Enter BASSANIO, with LEONARDO, and other Followers.
BASSANIO: You [servants accompanying Bassanio] may do so; but let it be so hasted [done so speedily] that supper
be ready at the very furthest [latest] by five of the clock. See these letters
delivered; put the liveries [servants' uniforms] to making; and desire Gratiano to come anon
[soon; right now] to my lodging. [Exit a ServANTONIO:
LAUNCELOT: To him, father.
OLD GOBBO: God bless your worship!
BASSANIO: Gramercy! [Thank you!] wouldst thou aught with me? [Do you have any business with me?] 35
OLD GOBBO: Here’s my son, sir, a poor boy,—
LAUNCELOT: Not a poor boy, sir, but the rich Jew’s man; that would, sir,—as my father shall specify,—
OLD GOBBO: He hath a great infection [affection; desire], sir, as one would say, to serve—
LAUNCELOT: Indeed, the short and the long is, I serve the Jew,
and have a desire, as my father shall specify,—
OLD GOBBO: His master and he, saving your worship’s reverence,
are scarce cater-cousins,—
[scarce cater-cousins: Scarcely close cousins; hardly good friends]
LAUNCELOT: To be brief, the very truth is that the Jew having
done me wrong, doth cause me,—as my father, being, I hope, an old man,
shall frutify [verify; certify; declare] unto you,—
OLD GOBBO: I have here a dish of doves that I would bestow upon your worship, and my suit is,—
LAUNCELOT: In very brief, the suit is impertinent [pertinent] to myself, as
your worship shall know by this honest old man; and, though I say it,
though old man, yet poor man, my father.
BASSANIO: One speak for both. What would you?
LAUNCELOT: Serve you, sir. 45
OLD GOBBO: That is the very defect [crux; heart; point; effect] of the matter, sir.
BASSANIO: I know thee well; thou hast obtain’d thy suit:
Shylock thy master spoke with me this day,
And hath preferr’d thee, if it be preferment
To leave a rich Jew’s service, to become 50
The follower of so poor a gentleman.
[I know . . . gentleman: I know about you, and you
can have what you seek. Shylock told me today that he recommended you
to my service. Be aware, though, that I am a poor gentleman.]
LAUNCELOT: The old proverb is very well parted [divided] between my
master Shylock and you, sir: you have the grace of God, sir, and he
hath enough [of the same thing].
BASSANIO: Thou speak’st it well. Go, father, with thy son.
Take leave of thy old master, and inquire
My lodging out. [To his followers.] Give him a
livery [uniform] 55
More guarded [more elegant] than his fellows’: see it done.
LAUNCELOT: Father, in [walk on]. I cannot get a service, no; I have ne’er
a tongue in my head. [So,
people think I can't get work and that I don't have a fancy tongue in
my head. (Launcelot is bragging that he can get work and can
communicate effectively.)] Well, [looking on his palm] if any
man in Italy have a fairer table [hand] which doth offer to swear upon a book [Bible],
I shall have good fortune. Go to; here’s a simple line of life: here’s
a small trifle of wives: alas! fifteen wives is nothing: a ’leven
widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one man; and then to
’scape drowning thrice, and to be in peril of my life with the edge of
a feather-bed; here are simple ’scapes. [In the last sentence, Launcelot reads his palm and predicts what the future holds for him.] Well, if Fortune be a woman,
she’s a good wench for this gear. Father, come; I’ll take my leave of
the Jew in the twinkling of an eye. [Exeunt LAUNCELOT and Old
BASSANIO: I pray thee, good Leonardo, think on this:
These things being bought, and orderly bestow’d,
Return in haste, for I do feast to-night 60
My best-esteem’d acquaintance: hie thee, go.
LEONARDO: My best endeavours shall be done herein.
GRATIANO: Where is your master?
LEONARDO: Yonder, sir, he
GRATIANO: Signior Bassanio!—
GRATIANO: I have a suit to you.
BASSANIO: You have obtain’d it.
GRATIANO: You must not deny me: I must go with you to
BASSANIO: Why, then you must. But hear thee, Gratiano;
Thou art too wild, too rude and bold of voice;
Parts that become thee happily enough,
And in such eyes as ours appear not faults;
But where thou art not known, why, there they show 75
Something too liberal [free; uninhibited]. Pray thee, take pain
To allay with some cold drops of modesty
Thy skipping spirit, lest, through thy wild behaviour.
I be misconstru’d [misjudged] in the place I go to,
And lose my hopes. 80
GRATIANO: Signior Bassanio, hear me:
If I do not put on a sober habit,
Talk with respect [Talk respectfully], and swear but now and then,
Wear prayer-books in my pocket, look demurely,
Nay more, while grace is saying, hood mine eyes 85
Thus with my hat, and sigh, and say ‘amen;’
Use all the observance of civility,
Like one well studied in a sad ostent [face]
To please his grandam, never trust me more.
BASSANIO: Well, we shall see your bearing. 90
GRATIANO: Nay, but I bar [rule out; do not count] to-night; you shall not gauge me
By what we do to-night.
BASSANIO: No, that were pity:
I would entreat you rather to put on
Your boldest suit of mirth, for we have friends 95
That purpose [want] merriment. But fare you well:
I have some business.
GRATIANO: And I must to Lorenzo and the rest;
But we will visit you at supper-time. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 3
Venice. A Room in SHYLOCK’S House.
Enter JESSICA and LAUNCELOT.
JESSICA: I am sorry thou wilt leave my father so:
Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil,
Didst rob it of some taste of tediousness. 5
But fare thee well; there is a ducat for thee:
[ducat (DUK it): Gold or silver coin once used in Italy, the Netherlands, and some other European countries.]
And, Launcelot, soon at supper shalt thou see
Lorenzo, who is thy new master’s guest:
Give him this letter; do it secretly;
And so farewell: I would not have my father 10
See me in talk with thee.
LAUNCELOT: Adieu! [Farewell!]
tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful pagan, most sweet Jew! If a
Christian did not play the knave and get thee, I am much deceived. But,
adieu! these foolish drops do somewhat drown my manly spirit:
JESSICA: Farewell, good Launcelot. [Exit LAUNCELOT.
Alack [[expression of dismay], what heinous sin is it in me
To be asham’d to be my father’s child! 15
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo!
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian, and thy loving wife. [Exit.
Act 2, Scene 4
Venice. A Street.
Enter GRATIANO, LORENZO, SALARINO, and SALANIO.
LORENZO: Nay, we will slink [sneak] away in [at] supper-time,
Disguise us [put on masks] at my lodging, and return
All in an hour. 5
GRATIANO: We have not made good preparation.
SALARINO: We have not spoke us yet of torch-bearers.
[not . . . -bearers: not yet arranged for torchbearers]
SALANIO: ’Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly [cleverly] order’d,
And better, in my mind, not undertook.
['Tis vile . . . undertook: The party won't succeed unless it is cleverly planned. I think it's better not to have it.]
LORENZO: ’Tis now but four o’clock: we have two hours 10
To furnish us [make preparations].
Enter LAUNCELOT, with a letter.
Friend Launcelot, what’s the news?
LAUNCELOT: An [If] it shall please you to break up this [break the seal on this letter], it shall seem to signify [it shall tell you the news].
LORENZO: I know the hand: in faith, ’tis a fair hand; 15
And whiter than the paper it writ [it is written] on
Is the fair hand that writ [wrote the letter].
GRATIANO: Love news [news about romance], in faith.
LAUNCELOT: By your leave, sir.
LORENZO: Whither goest thou? 20
LAUNCELOT: Marry, sir, to bid my old master, the Jew, to sup
to-night with my new master, the Christian.
LORENZO: Hold here, take this: tell gentle Jessica
I will not fail her; speak it privately.
Go, gentlemen. [Exit LAUNCELOT.
Will you prepare you for this masque [masquerade party] to-night? 25
I am provided of a torch-bearer.
SALARINO: Ay, marry, I’ll be gone about it straight.
SALANIO: And so will I.
LORENZO: Meet me and Gratiano
At Gratiano’s lodging some hour hence [in an hour]. 30
SALARINO: ’Tis good we do so. [Exeunt SALARINO and SALANIO.
GRATIANO: Was not that letter from fair Jessica?
LORENZO: I must needs tell thee all. She hath directed
How I shall take her from her father’s house;
What gold and jewels she is furnish’d with; 35
What page’s suit she hath in readiness [to disguise herself].
If e’er the Jew her father come to heaven,
It will be for his gentle daughter’s sake;
And never dare misfortune cross her foot,
[And never . . . foot: And never will she have bad luck]
Unless she do it under this excuse, 40
That she is issue to a faithless Jew.
Come, go with me: peruse this [letter] as thou goest.
Fair Jessica shall be my torch-bearer. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 5
Venice. Before SHYLOCK’S House.
Enter SHYLOCK and LAUNCELOT.
SHYLOCK: Well, thou shalt see, thy eyes shall be thy judge,
The difference of old Shylock and Bassanio:—
[The difference . . . Bassanio: The difference between working for me and working for Bassanio]
What, Jessica!—thou shalt not gormandize, 5
As thou hast done with me;—What, Jessica!—
And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out—
Why, Jessica, I say!
[What, Jessica . . . apparel out: Hey,
Jessica! You will not gorge yourself with food as you have done before.
And you will not snore and oversleep and wear your clothes out.]
LAUNCELOT: Why, Jessica! [Hey, Jessica!]
SHYLOCK: Who bids thee call? I do not bid thee call. 10
[Who . . . call: Who asked you to call out? I'm not asking you to call for her.
LAUNCELOT: Your worship was wont to tell me that I could do nothing without bidding.
[Shylock told Launcelot that he could do nothing without first asking. But Launcelot--no grammarian--thinks nothing means anything.]
JESSICA: Call you? What is your will?
SHYLOCK: I am bid forth to supper, Jessica:
There are my keys. But wherefore [why] should I go? 15
I am not bid for love; they flatter me:
But yet I’ll go in hate, to feed upon
The prodigal [spendthrift] Christian. Jessica, my girl,
Look to my house. I am right loath to go:
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest [contentment], 20
For I did dream of money-bags to-night.
LAUNCELOT: I beseech you, sir, go: my young master doth expect your reproach [approach].
SHYLOCK: So do I his.
LAUNCELOT: And they have conspired [worked] together: I will not say you
shall see a masque; but if you do, then it was not for nothing that my
nose fell a-bleeding on Black-Monday [Easter Monday] last, at six o’clock i’ the
morning, falling out that year on Ash-Wednesday was four year in the
[then it . . . afternoon: Then
my nose bled the day after Easter, a sign fortelling their
masquerade, and four years later my nose bled again on Ash Wednesday.]
SHYLOCK: What! are there masques? Hear you me, Jessica: 25
Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum,
And the vile squealing of the wry-neck’d fife,
[wry-necked fife: One of the meanings of wry is twisted. A fifer generally twists his neck while playing.]
Clamber not you up to the casements [windows] then,
Nor thrust your head into the public street
To gaze on Christian fools with varnish’d [painted] faces, 30
But stop my house’s ears [close the windows], I mean my casements;
Let not the sound of shallow foppery [foolishness] enter
My sober house. By Jacob’s staff I swear
I have no mind of feasting forth to-night;
But I will go. Go you before me, sirrah [mister; fellow. Used to speak to an underling or a contemptuous person]. 35
Say I will come.
LAUNCELOT: I will go before, sir. Mistress, look out at window, for all this;
There will come a Christian by,
Will be worth a Jewess’ eye. [Exit LAUNCELOT.
SHYLOCK: What says that fool of Hagar’s offspring, ha? 40
[Hagar: In the Old Testament, the
Egyptian handmaid of Sarah in
Genesis, Chapter 16. Hagar bore a son, Ishmael, to Abraham, the husband
of Sarah. Ishmael was the ancestor of Arab tribes (Genesis 21:8-21;
he was a youth, Ishmael was cast out of Abraham's household and became
JESSICA: His words were, ‘Farewell, mistress;’ nothing else.
SHYLOCK: The patch [fool] is kind enough, but a huge feeder [eater];
Snail-slow in profit, and he sleeps by day
More than the wild cat: drones [loafers] hive [reside] not with me;
Therefore I part with him, and part with him 45
To one that I would have him help to waste
His borrow’d purse. Well, Jessica, go in:
Perhaps I will return immediately:
Do as I bid you; shut doors after you:
‘Fast bind, fast find,’ 50
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind. [Exit.
JESSICA: Farewell; and if my fortune be not crost [crossed; thwarted],
I have a father, you a daughter, lost. [Exit.
Act 2, Scene 6
Venice. Before SHYLOCK'S house.
Enter GRATIANO and SALARINO, masqued.
GRATIANO: This is the penthouse under which Lorenzo
Desir’d us to make stand.
[penthouse: Dwelling with eaves; the eaves themselves]
SALARINO: His hour is almost past. 5
[His . . . past: He should have been here by now.]
GRATIANO: And it is marvel he out-dwells his hour,
For lovers ever run before the clock.
[And it is . . . clock: And it is surprising that he is late, for lovers are usually early for their meetings.]
SALARINO: O! ten times faster Venus’ pigeons fly
[Venus: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite]
To seal love’s bonds new-made, than they are wont
To keep obliged faith unforfeited! 10
[ten times . . . forfeited: New sweethearts are ten times faster to declare the bonds of their love than old married couples.]
GRATIANO: That ever holds: who riseth from a feast
With that keen appetite that he sits down?
[who riseth . . . down?: Who gets up from the dinner table with the same appetite that he had when he sat down?]
Where is the horse that doth untread again
His tedious measures with the unbated fire
That he did pace them first? All things that are, 15
Are with more spirit chased than enjoy’d.
[Where is . . . enjoy'd: Where is the
horse that can run the same course a second time, moments later, with
the same blazing speed? It is more exciting to chase something than to
catch it; it is more exhilarating to anticipate a pleasure than to
experience the pleasure.]
How like a younker [young man] or a prodigal
The scarfed [flying flags] bark [ship] puts from her native bay,
Hugg’d and embraced by the strumpet wind!
[Hugg'd . . . wind: Metaphor comparing the embracing wind to a prostitute]
How like the prodigal doth she return, 20
With over-weather’d ribs and ragged sails,
Lean, rent, and beggar’d [driven into bankruptcy] by the strumpet wind!
SALARINO: Here comes Lorenzo: more of this hereafter.
LORENZO: Sweet friends, your patience for my long
abode [delay]; 25
Not I, but my affairs, have made you wait:
When you shall please to play the thieves for wives,
[When . . . wives: When the day comes for you to woo a future wife]
I’ll watch as long for you then. Approach;
Here dwells my father Jew. Ho! who’s within?
[father: future father-in-law]
Enter JESSICA above, in boy’s clothes. 30
JESSICA: Who are you? Tell me, for more certainty,
Albeit I’ll swear that I do know your tongue.
LORENZO: Lorenzo, and thy love.
JESSICA: Lorenzo, certain; and my love indeed,
For whom love I so much? And now who knows 35
But you, Lorenzo, whether I am yours?
LORENZO: Heaven and thy thoughts are witness that thou art.
JESSICA: Here, catch this casket [box; container]; it is worth the pains.
I am glad ’tis night, you do not look on me,
For I am much asham’d of my exchange [exchange of clothes; (she is disguised as a boy)] 40
But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;
For if they could, Cupid [god of love] himself would blush
To see me thus transformed to a boy.
LORENZO: Descend, for you must be my torch-bearer. 45
JESSICA: What! must I hold a candle to my shames?
They in themselves, good sooth [truth], are too-too light [too obvious].
Why, ’tis an office of discovery, love,
And I should be obscur’d.
LORENZO: So are you,
Even in the lovely garnish of a boy.
But come at once;
For the close night doth play the runaway [the night is fleeting],
And we are stay’d [waited] for at Bassanio’s feast.
JESSICA: I will make fast the doors, and gild myself 55
With some more ducats, and be with you straight. [Exit above.
GRATIANO: Now, by my hood, a Gentile, and no Jew.
LORENZO: Beshrew [despise] me, but I love her heartily;
For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true, 60
And true she is, as she hath prov’d herself;
And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
Shall she be placed in my constant soul.
What, art thou come? On, gentlemen; away! 65
Our masquing mates by this time for us stay. [Exit with JESSICA and SALARINO.
[Our . . . stay: Our disguised friends are waiting for us by this time.]
ANTONIO: Who’s there?
GRATIANO: Signior Antonio!
ANTONIO: Fie, fie, Gratiano! where are all the rest? 70
’Tis nine o’clock; our friends all stay [wait] for you.
No masque to-night: the wind is come about;
Bassanio presently will go aboard:
I have sent twenty out to seek for you.
GRATIANO: I am glad on ’t: I desire no more delight 75
Than to be under sail and gone to-night. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 7
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Flourish of Cornets. Enter PORTIA, with the PRINCE OF MOROCCO, and their Trains.
PORTIA: Go, draw aside the curtains, and discover [reveal]
The several caskets to this noble prince.
Now make your choice. 5
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: The first, of gold, which this inscription bears:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt: 10
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.
How shall I know if I do choose the right?
PORTIA: The one of them contains my picture, prince:
If you choose that, then I am yours withal [immediately].
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: Some god direct my judgment! Let me
I will survey the inscriptions back again:
What says this leaden casket?
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.
Must give: For what? for lead? hazard for lead?
This casket threatens. Men that hazard all 20
Do it in hope of fair advantages:
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross [waste given off during the manufacture of certain metals];
I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught [anything] for lead.
What says the silver with her virgin hue?
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves. 25
As much as he deserves! Pause there, Morocco,
And weigh thy value with an even hand.
If thou be’st [be] rated by thy estimation,
Thou dost deserve enough; and yet enough
May not extend so far as to the lady: 30
And yet to be afeard of my deserving
Were but a weak disabling of myself.
As much as I deserve! Why, that’s the lady:
I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes,
In graces, and in qualities of breeding; 35
But more than these, in love I do deserve.
What if I stray’d no further, but chose here?
Let’s see once more this saying grav’d [engraved] in gold:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
Why, that’s the lady: all the world desires her; 40
From the four corners of the earth they come,
To kiss this shrine, this mortal-breathing saint:
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds
[Hyrcania: Region of Asia southeast of the Caspian Sea]
Of wide Arabia are as throughfares [thoroughfares] now
For princes to come view fair Portia: 45
The watery kingdom [the sea], whose ambitious head
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come,
As o’er a brook, to see fair Portia.
One of these three contains her heavenly picture. 50
Is ’t like that lead contains her? ’Twere damnation
To think so base a thought: it were too gross
To rib her cerecloth [waxed burial cloth; waxed shroud] in the obscure grave.
Or shall I think in silver she’s immur’d [walled in],
Being ten times undervalu’d to [worth less than] tried [tested; proven] gold? 55
O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem
Was set in worse than gold. They have in England
A coin that bears the figure of an angel
Stamped in gold, but that’s insculp’d upon [engraved on the outside];
But here an angel in a golden bed 60
Lies all within. Deliver me the key:
Here do I choose, and thrive I as I may!
PORTIA: There, take it, prince; and if my form lie there,
Then I am yours. [He unlocks the golden casket.
PRINCE OF MOROCCO: O hell! what have we here? 65
A carrion Death [a decaying skull], within whose empty eye [eye socket]
There is a written scroll. I’ll read the writing.
All that glisters [glistens] is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms infold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll’d:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too griev’d a heart 70
To take a tedious leave: thus losers part. [Exit with his Train. Flourish of Cornets.
PORTIA: A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains: go.
Let all of his complexion choose me so. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 8
Venice. A Street.
Enter SALARINO and SALANIO.
SALARINO: Why, man, I saw Bassanio under sail:
With him is Gratiano gone along;
And in their ship I’m sure Lorenzo is not. 5
SALANIO: The villain Jew with outcries rais’d [summoned] the duke,
Who went with him to search Bassanio’s ship.
SALARINO: He came too late, the ship was under sail:
But there the duke was given to understand
That in a gondola were seen together 10
Lorenzo and his amorous Jessica.
Besides, Antonio certified the duke
They were not with Bassanio in his ship.
SALANIO: I never heard a passion so confus’d,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable, 15
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
‘My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!
A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats, 20
Of double ducats, stol’n from me by my daughter!
And jewels! two stones, two rich and precious stones,
Stol’n by my daughter! Justice! find the girl!
She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.’
SALARINO: Why, all the boys in Venice follow him, 25
Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats.
SALANIO: Let good Antonio look he keep his day [reimburse Shylock on the due date],
Or he shall pay for this.
SALARINO: Marry, well remember’d.
I reason’d [talked] with a Frenchman yesterday, 30
Who told me,—in the narrow seas that part
The French and English,—there miscarried
A vessel of our country richly fraught.
[there miscarried . . . fraught: A Venetian ship laden with valuable cargo
I thought upon Antonio when he told me,
And wish’d in silence that it were not his. 35
SALANIO: You were best to tell Antonio what you hear;
Yet do not suddenly, for it may grieve him.
SALARINO: A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.
I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:
Bassanio told him he would make some speed 40
Of his return: he answer’d ‘Do not so;
Slubber not [do not delay] business for my sake, Bassanio,
But stay the very riping of the time [stay until you complete your tasks];
And for the Jew’s bond which he hath of me,
Let it not enter in your mind of love: 45
Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts
To courtship and such fair ostents [displays] of love
As shall conveniently become you there:’
And even there, his eye being big with tears,
Turning his face, he put his hand behind him, 50
And with affection wondrous sensible
He wrung Bassanio’s hand; and so they parted.
SALANIO: I think he only loves the world for him.
[I think . . . him: I believe he thinks the world of Bassanio.]
I pray thee, let us go and find him out,
And quicken his embraced heaviness 55
With some delight or other.
[quicken . . . other: lift him out of his gloom with some sort of merrymaking]
SALARINO: Do we so. [Exeunt.
Act 2, Scene 9
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Enter NERISSA, with a Servitor.
NERISSA: Quick, quick, I pray thee; draw the curtain straight:
The Prince of Arragon hath ta’en his oath,
And comes to his election presently. 5
Flourish of Cornets. Enter the PRINCE OF ARRAGON, PORTIA, and their Trains.
PORTIA: Behold, there stands the caskets, noble prince:
If you choose that wherein I am contain’d,
[that . . . contain'd: the one containing my picture]
Straight shall our nuptial [wedding] rites be solemniz’d;
But if you fail, without more speech, my lord, 10
You must be gone from hence immediately.
Ar. I am enjoin’d by oath to observe three things:
First, never to unfold to any one
Which casket ’twas I chose; next, if I fail
Of the right casket, never in my life 15
To woo a maid in way of marriage;
If I do fail in fortune of my choice,
Immediately to leave you and be gone.
PORTIA: To these injunctions [directives] every one doth swear 20
That comes to hazard for my worthless self.
Ar. And so have I address’d me. Fortune now
To my heart’s hope! Gold, silver, and base lead.
Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath:
You shall look fairer, ere [before] I give or hazard. 25
What says the golden chest? ha! let me see:
Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
What many men desire! that ‘many’ may be meant
By the fool multitude, that choose by show,
[meant . . . show: Meant for fools who choose on the basis of the casket's glittering appearance]
Not learning more than the fond eye doth teach; 30
Which pries not to the interior, but, like the martlet [a type of swallow with a square or forked tail],
Builds [its nest] in the weather on the outward wall,
Even in the force and road of casualty [even in wind and rain that could cause damage or injury].
I will not choose what many men desire,
Because I will not jump with [act like] common spirits 35
And rank me with the barbarous multitude.
Why, then to thee, thou silver treasure-house;
Tell me once more what title thou dost bear:
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
And well said too; for who shall go about 40
To cozen [cheat] fortune and be honourable
Without the stamp of merit? [Who shall pretend to be honorable without earning honor?] Let none presume
To wear an undeserved dignity.
O! that estates, degrees, and offices
Were not deriv’d corruptly, and that clear honour 45
Were purchas’d by the merit of the wearer.
How many then should cover that stand bare; [How many men would then be exposed as frauds?]
How many be commanded that command; [How many would have to take orders instead of giving them?]
How much low peasantry would then be glean’d
From the true seed of honour; and how much honour 50
Pick’d from the chaff and ruin of the times
To be new varnish’d! Well, but to my choice:
[How much . . . varnish'd: How many
dishonorable people would be separated from the honorable, and how many
worthy people would be elevated from a lowly status?]
Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
I will assume desert. Give me a key for this,
And instantly unlock my fortunes here. [He opens the silver
PORTIA: Too long a pause for that which you find there.
Ar. What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot,
Presenting me a schedule [a message to read]! I will read it.
How much unlike art thou to Portia!
How much unlike my hopes and my deservings! 60
Who chooseth me shall have as much as he deserves.
[How much . . . deserves: Arragon is not yet reading. Rather, he is commenting on what he finds in the casket.]
Did I deserve no more than a fool’s head?
Is that my prize? are my deserts no better?
PORTIA: To offend, and judge, are distinct offices,
And of opposed natures. 65
[are my . . . natures: Don't I deserve better? I'd rather not say. You might find my answer offensive.]
Ar. What is here?
[Arragon now reads the message.]
The fire seven times tried this:
Seven times tried that judgment is
That did never choose amiss.
Some there be that shadows kiss;
Such have but a shadow’s bliss:
There be fools alive, I wis [also written as iwis: it means certainly]
Silver’d o’er; and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed,
I will ever be your head:
So be gone, sir: you are sped.
[The fire . . . sped: This silver
casket was forged in a fire. Unerring judgment is forged in the
fire of life. Those lacking good judgment kiss shadows instead of what
casts the shadows. Consequently, they experience a shadow of joy, not
real joy. There are old fools, certainly, silvered over with gray hair.
This casket is like an old fool. Whatever wife you take to bed, what
you see in this casket--a fool's head--will ever be your head.]
Still more fool I shall appear
By the time I linger here:
With one fool’s head I came to woo,
But I go away with two. 70
Sweet, adieu. I’ll keep my oath,
Patiently to bear my wroth [anger]. [Exit ARRAGON with his Train.
PORTIA: Thus hath the candle sing’d the moth.
[Thus . . . moth: Portia compares the casket to a flame and Arragon to a moth attracted to the flame.]
O, these deliberate fools! when they do choose,
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose. 75
[They have . . . lose: They know only how to lose.]
NERISSA: The ancient saying is no heresy:
‘Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.’ [Fate chooses the time you will die and the time you will marry.]
PORTIA: Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.
Enter a Servant.
SERVANT: Where is my lady? 80
PORTIA: Here; what would my lord?
SERVANT: Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one that comes before
To signify the approaching of his lord;
From whom he bringeth sensible regreets [sincere and heartfelt greetings], 85
To wit,—besides commends and courteous breath,—
Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen
So likely an embassador of love.
[besides commends . . . love: Besides
courteous greetings, he offers gifts of great value. Moreover, I have
never seen so handsome an ambassador of love.]
A day in April never came so sweet,
To show how costly summer was at hand, 90
As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord.
[A day in April . . .
lord: This young messenger is like a glorious day in April that
heralds the coming of a beautiful summer.]
PORTIA: No more, I pray thee: I am half afeard
Thou wilt say anon [soon] he is some kin to thee,
Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him.
[Thou . . . him: Since you use such lavish poetic expressions to praise him.]
Come, come, Nerissa; for I long to see 95
Quick Cupid’s post [messenger] that comes so mannerly.
NERISSA: Bassanio, lord Love, if thy will it be! [Exeunt.
[Bassanio . . . be: Bassanio, if you have come here to win Portia, let thy will be done!]
Act 3, Scene 1
Venice. A Street.
Enter SALANIO and SALARINO.
SALANIO: Now, what news on the Rialto [news in the business district]?
SALARINO: Why, yet it lives there unchecked [Rumors are circulating] that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the narrow seas [ship with valuable cargo wrecked in the English Channel];
the Goodwins, I think they call the place; a very dangerous flat, and
fatal, where the carcasses of many a tall ship lie buried, as they say,
if my gossip Report be an honest woman of her word.
[Goodwins: Goodwin Sands, a sandbank
off the coast of the county of Kent in southeastern England. Goodwin
Sands has been the site of numerous shipwrecks.]
SALANIO: I would she were as lying a gossip in that as ever knapped [chewed]
ginger, or made her neighbours believe she wept for the death of a
third husband. But it is true,—without any slips of prolixity or
crossing the plain highway of talk [speaking plainly without being wordy],—that
the good Antonio, the honest Antonio,—O, that I had a title good enough
to keep his name company!—
SALARINO: Come, the full stop.
SALANIO: Ha! what sayst thou? Why, the end is, he hath lost a ship.
SALARINO: I would it might prove the end of his losses.
SALANIO: Let me say ‘amen’ betimes [immediately], lest the devil cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness of a Jew.
Enter SHYLOCK. 10
How now, Shylock! what news among the merchants?
SHYLOCK: You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter’s flight.
SALARINO: That’s certain: I, for my part, knew the tailor that made the wings she flew withal [wings (disguise) that she used to fly away from you].
SALANIO: And Shylock, for his own part, knew the bird was fledged;
and then it is the complexion of them all to leave the dam.
[knew the bird . . . dam: Knew that Jessica was ready and able to leave home. There comes a time when all children leave home.]
SHYLOCK: She is damned for it. 15
SALARINO: That’s certain, if the devil may be her judge.
SHYLOCK: My own flesh and blood to rebel!
SALANIO: Out upon it, old carrion [rotting flesh]! rebels it at these years? [are you saying that your own body--your own flesh and blood--rebels against you at your advanced age?]
SHYLOCK: I say my daughter is my flesh and blood.
SALARINO: There is more difference between thy flesh and hers
than between jet and ivory; more between your bloods than there is
between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio
have had any loss at sea or no?
SHYLOCK: There I have another bad match: a bankrupt, a
prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar, that
used to come so smug upon the mart; let him look to his bond: he was
wont to call me usurer; let him look to his bond: he was wont to lend
money for a Christian courtesy; let him look to his bond.
SALARINO: Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh: what’s that good for?
SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it
will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a
million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation,
thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and
what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew
hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the
same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and
summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you
tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you
wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me I will
execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the
[The villany . . . instruction: I will improve on the villainy you taught me when I gain my revenge.]
Enter a Servant.
SERVANT: Gentlemen, my master Antonio is at his house, and
desires to speak with you both.
SALARINO: We have been up and down to seek him.
SALANIO: Here comes another of the tribe: a third cannot be
matched, unless the devil himself turn Jew. [Exeunt SALANIO,
SALARINO and ServANTONIO:
SHYLOCK: How now, Tubal! what news from Genoa? Hast thou found my daughter?
TUBAL: I often came where I did hear of her, but cannot find
SHYLOCK: Why there, there, there! a diamond gone [a diamond she took with her], cost me two
thousand ducats in Frankfort [Frankfurt, an important financial center in Germany]! The curse never fell upon our nation till
now; I never felt it till now: two thousand ducats in that; and other
precious, precious jewels. I would my daughter were dead at my foot,
and the jewels in her ear! would she were hearsed at my foot, and the
ducats in her coffin! No news of them? Why, so: and I know not what’s
spent in the search: Why thou—loss upon loss! the thief gone with so
much, and so much to find the thief; and no satisfaction, no revenge:
nor no ill luck stirring but what lights on my shoulders; no sighs but
of my breathing; no tears but of my shedding.
TUBAL: Yes, other men have ill luck too. Antonio, as I heard in Genoa,—
SHYLOCK: What, what, what? ill luck, ill luck?
TUBAL: —hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis [region of northern Africa].
SHYLOCK: I thank God! I thank God! Is it true? is it
TUBAL: I spoke with some of the sailors that escaped the wrack [wreck].
SHYLOCK: I thank thee, good Tubal. Good news, good news! ha, ha! Where? in Genoa?
TUBAL: Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night, fourscore [eighty] ducats.
SHYLOCK: Thou stick’st a dagger in me: I shall never see my
gold again: fourscore ducats at a sitting! fourscore
TUBAL: There came divers of Antonio’s creditors in my
company to Venice, that swear he cannot choose but break.
[There came . . . break: Various
creditors of Antonio came with me to Venice. They swear that he has no
choice but to go bankrupt.]
SHYLOCK: I am very glad of it: I’ll plague him; I’ll torture him: I am glad of it.
TUBAL: One of them showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey [that he received from your daughter in exchange for a monkey].
SHYLOCK: Out upon her! Thou torturest me, Tubal: it was my
turquoise; I had it of Leah [Shylock's wife] when I was a bachelor: I would not have
given it for a wilderness of monkeys.
TUBAL: But Antonio is certainly undone.
SHYLOCK: Nay, that’s true, that’s very true. Go, Tubal, fee [hire] me
an officer [police officer who arrests deadbeats]; bespeak [instruct] him to begin standying by two weeks in advance. I will have the heart of
him [Antonio], if he forfeit; for, were he out of Venice, I can make what
merchandise I will. Go, go, Tubal, and meet me at our synagogue; go,
good Tubal; at our synagogue, Tubal. [Exeunt.
[for, were he . . . I will: Once he is gone from Venice, I can make whatever trades I wish.]
Act 3, Scene 2
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Enter BASSANIO, PORTIA, GRATIANO, NERISSA, and Attendants.
PORTIA: I pray you, tarry [wait awhile]: pause a day or two
Before you hazard [choose a casket]; for, in choosing wrong,
I lose your company: therefore, forbear a while. 5
There’s something tells me, but it is not love,
I would not lose you; and you know yourself,
Hate counsels not in such a quality.
[There's something . . . quality:
Something tells me that I don't want to lose you. I wouldn't have such
a thought if I disliked you.]
But lest you should not understand me well,—
And yet a maiden hath no tongue but thought,— 10
I would detain you here some month or two
Before you venture for me. I could teach you
How to choose right, but then I am forsworn;
[But lest . . . forsworn: So that you
understand me clearly, what I am saying is that I want you to stay here
for a month or two before you try your luck with the caskets. I could
teach you how to choose the right casket. On the other hand, I have
sworn not to give out any clues.]
So will I never be: so may you miss me;
[However, I will never break my oath not to reveal the right casket. Thus, you might choose the wrong one.]
But if you do, you’ll make me wish a sin, 15
That I had been forsworn. Beshrew your eyes,
They have o’erlook’d me and divided me:
One half of me is yours, the other half yours,
Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours,
And so all yours. O! these naughty times 20
Put bars between the owners and their rights;
And so, though yours, not yours. Prove it so,
[But if you do . . . not yours: If you
do choose the wrong casket, you'll make me wish I had broken my oath.
O, those eyes of yours. When they look at me, they divide me in two.
One of me is yours. The other half belongs to me. However, whatever is
mine is also yours. So I am all yours. It's too bad that these times we
live in separate owners from their rights. What I mean is that, though
I am yours, I am not yours.]
Let fortune go to hell for it, not I.
[Let . . . I: Let fortune go to hell for giving me such bad luck.]
I speak too long; but ’tis to peise the time [to weight down time, making it pass more slowly],
To eke [increase] it and to draw it out in length, 25
To stay you from election [to keep you with me for a while before you choose a casket].
BASSANIO: Let me choose;
For as I am, I live upon the rack.
[I live . . . rack: I live in torment,
like a man stretched on the rack, as I wonder whether I will make the
right choice. (The rack was an instrument of torture. The victim was
bound at the wrists at one end of a rectangular frame and at the ankles
at the other end. By means of ratchets, pulleys, or similar devices,
the torturers gradually stretched the victim's body to cause him so
much pain that he would reveal secret information, confess to a crime,
PORTIA: Upon the rack, Bassanio! then confess
What treason [crime] there is mingled with your love. 30
BASSANIO: None but that ugly treason of mistrust,
Which makes me fear th’ enjoying of my love:
[None . . . love: My only crime is my fear that I will never get a chance to love you.]
There may as well be amity and life
’Tween snow and fire, as treason and my love.
[There may . . . love: Treason has no
more to do with my love for you than friendship and love have to do
with the "relationship" between snow and fire.]
PORTIA: Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack, 35
Where men enforced do speak anything.
[Ay, but . . . anything: Yes, but I
worry that—just as a man being tortured on the rack—you will say
anything to escape your torment.]
BASSANIO: Promise me life, and I’ll confess the truth.
PORTIA: Well then, confess, and live.
BASSANIO: ‘Confess’ and ‘love’
Had been the very sum of my confession: 40
O happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
["Confess" and . . . deliverance: To confess my love for you is exactly
what I want to acknowledge. O, it is a happy moment when my torturer
tells me the answers that will free me!]
But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
[But . . . caskets: But let me go in now and choose one of the caskets.]
PORTIA: Away then! I am lock’d [My portrait is locked] in one of them:
If you do love me, you will find me out. 45
Nerissa and the rest, stand all aloof.
Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
[swan-like end: In myth and legend, a swan was said to sing a song when it was dying.]
Fading in music: that the comparison
May stand more proper, my eye shall be the stream 50
And watery death-bed for him. He may win;
And what is music then? then music is
Even as the flourish when true subjects bow
To a new-crowned monarch: such it is
As are those dulcet sounds in break of day 55
That creep into the dreaming bridegroom’s ear,
And summon him to marriage.
[then music is . . . marriage: Then
is like the glorious trumpet fanfare played when a newly crowned
monarch enters a room and his subjects bow to him. The music is also
like the sweet morning sounds that creep through a bedroom window and
awaken a sleeping bridegroom to his wedding day and the coming joys and
pleasures of marriage.]
Now he goes,
With no less presence, but with much more love,
Than young Alcides, when he did redeem
The virgin tribute paid by howling Troy 60
To the sea-monster: I stand for sacrifice;
The rest aloof are the Dardanian wives,
With bleared visages, coe forth to view
The issue of the exploit. Go, Hercules!
[Now he . . . Go, Hercules!: Now he goes to choose a casket. But he has much more love for
me than Hercules had for the young princess, Hesione—daughter of the Trojan king Laomedon—when he rescued
her from a sea monster. Alcides pronunciation: AL sy deez or al SY deez).
I am like that princess. The rest gathered around me are like the
Trojan wives who went forth, with teary eyes, to observe the outcome of
the battle between Hercules and the sea monster.
Live thou, I live: with much, much more dismay 65
I view the fight than thou that mak’st the fray. [A Song, whilst BASSANIO comments on the caskets to himself.
[Live thou . . . fray: Portia compares
Bassanio to Hercules. If Bassanio "rescues" Portia's portrait from a
casket—while Portia looks on very nervously—she and Bassanio will
Tell me where is fancy [love; desire] bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
It is engender’d in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy’s knell:
I’ll begin it,—Ding, dong, bell.
All. Ding, dong, bell.
BASSANIO: So may the outward shows be least themselves:
The world is still deceiv’d with ornament.
[So may . . . ornament: People are often deceived by appealing outward appearances.]
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
But, being season’d with a gracious voice, 70
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes 75
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.
[There is . . . parts: Even people with simple vices attempt to pass them off as virtues.]
How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars [In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Greek god of war, Ares, pronounced AIR eez]
Who, inward search’d, have livers white as milk; 80
And these assume but valour’s excrement
To render them redoubted! Look on beauty,
And you shall see ’tis purchas’d by the weight;
Which therein works a miracle in nature,
Making them lightest that wear most of it: 85
[How many . . . most of it: How many
cowards there are with false hearts who pretend to be heroes. Look into
their characters and you will find that they are lily-livered. They
display the outward appearance of valor to make them look strong and
invincible. (In this passage, excrement means
excretion or growth. Thus, a beard (a growth of hairs on the
face) is an excrement that cowards use to appear manly and courageous.)
When you look on beauty, you will notice that it is purchased by the
weight—in creams, powders, dyes, lipsticks, and cosmetics. Those
weighted down with the most makeup seem, ironically, light-hearted and
So are those crisped snaky golden locks [curly blond hair]
Which make such wanton gambols with the wind [which blow wantonly in the wind],
Upon supposed fairness, often known
To be the dowry of a second head,
The skull that bred them, in the sepulchre. 90
[Upon supposed . . . sepulchre: But
that blond hair is often just a wig whose hairs came from the skull of
someone now lying in a burial chamber.]
Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
To a most dangerous sea; the beauteous scarf
Veiling an Indian beauty; in a word,
The seeming truth which cunning times put on
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy gold, 95
[Thus ornament. . . the wisest: Thus
an ornamented outward appearance may conceal dangers that can entrap
even the wisest of persons.]
Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee;
[Hard . . . Midas: Midas was a king of
Phrygia in ancient times. In Greek mythology, the teacher of the god
Dionysus, old Silenus, wandered off one day after becoming drunk.
Subjects of Midas found him and took him to the king. After several
days, Midas took Silenus to Dionysus. Overjoyed to have Silenus back,
Dionysus told Midas he would grant him any wish. Midas then said he
wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. After Dionysus
granted the wish, Midas discovered that everything he touched indeed
turned to gold, including food. According to one version of this story,
Midas then died of starvation.]
Nor none of thee [the silver casket], thou pale and common drudge
’Tween man and man: but thou, thou meagre lead,
[drudge . . . man: common medium of exchange; money]
Which rather threat’nest than dost promise aught,
[threat'nest . . . aught: The lead casket looks threatening and does not appear to promise anything]
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence, 100
And here choose I: joy be the consequence!
PORTIA: [Aside.] How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embrac’d despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-ey’d jealousy.
O love! be moderate; allay thy ecstasy; 105
In measure rain thy joy; scant this excess;
[allay . . . excess: Don't get too excited. Express your joy in droplets, not in a flood.]
I feel too much thy blessing; make it less,
For fear I surfeit!
BASSANIO: What find I here? [Opening the leaden casket.
Fair Portia’s counterfeit! [likeness]. What demi-god [creature who is half god and half human] 110
Hath come so near creation? Move these eyes?
Or whether, riding on the balls [eyeballs] of mine,
Seem they in motion? [As my eyes move, hers also seem to move.] Here are sever’d [separated] lips,
Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar [breath]
Should sunder [pass between] such sweet friends. Here, in her hairs 115
The painter plays the spider, and hath woven
A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men
Faster than gnats in cobwebs: but her eyes!—
How could he see to do them? having made one,
Methinks it should have power to steal both his 120
And leave itself unfurnish’d: yet look, how far
[having made . . . unfurnish'd: Having
painted one of her eyes, he would stare at it with such admiration that
he could not shift his gaze away from it. Thus, the painted eye would
be unfurnished—that is, it would have no companion eye.]
The substance of my praise doth wrong this shadow
In underprizing it, so far this shadow
Doth limp behind the substance. Here’s the scroll,
[The substance . . . behind the
substance: My praise of this image is inadequate, just as this image is
inadequate to represent the real Portia.]
The continent [content] and summary of my fortune.
You that choose not by the view,
Chance as fair and choose as true!
Since this fortune falls to you,
Be content and seek no new.
If you be well pleas’d with this
And hold your fortune for your bliss,
Turn you where your lady is
And claim her with a loving kiss. 125
A gentle scroll. Fair lady, by your leave; [Kissing her.
I come by note, to give and to receive.
Like one of two contending in a prize,
That thinks he hath done well in people’s eyes,
Hearing applause and universal shout, 130
Giddy in spirit, still gazing in a doubt
Whether those peals of praise be his or no;
[I come by . . . his or no: I am
following the instructions in the scroll, to give and to receive. I
must say that I feel like the victorious contender for a prize who
receives the applause of the people but wonders whether he is worthy of
So, thrice-fair lady, stand I, even so,
As doubtful whether what I see be true,
Until confirm’d, sign’d, ratified by you. 135
PORTIA: You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,
Such as I am: though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish,
To wish myself much better; yet, for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself; 140
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times
That only to stand high in your account,
[for myself . . . your account: I
would not wish myself to be better to satisfy my own desires or wishes.
But to satisfy your desires and wishes, I would like to be so much more
than I am—for example, a thousand times more attractive, ten thousand
times more prosperous—so that I could stand high in your regard.]
I might in virtues, beauties, livings [property], friends,
Exceed account: but the full sum of me 145
Is sum of nothing; which, to term in gross [to speak in plain language],
Is an unlesson’d girl, unschool’d, unpractis’d;
Happy in this, she is not yet so old
But she may learn; happier than this,
She is not bred so dull but she can learn; 150
Happiest of all is that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed,
As from her lord, her governor, her king.
Myself and what is mine to you and yours
Is now converted [given]: but now I was the lord 155
Of this fair mansion, master of my servants,
Queen o’er myself; and even now, but now,
This house, these servants, and this same myself
Are yours, my lord. I give them with this ring;
Which when you part from, lose, or give away, 160
Let it presage [foretell] the ruin of your love,
And be my vantage to exclaim on you.
[vantage . . . you: reason to berate you.]
BASSANIO: Madam, you have bereft me of all words,
[bereft . . . words: Made me speechless]
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins;
And there is such confusion in my powers, 165
As, after some oration fairly spoke
By a beloved prince, there doth appear
Among the buzzing pleased multitude;
Where every something, being blent together,
Turns to a wild of nothing, save of joy, 170
there . . . joy: And I am as excited as a crowd of citizens listening
to a rousing speech by their ruler in which every sentence pleases the
Express’d and not express’d. But when this ring
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence:
O! then be bold to say Bassanio’s dead.
[But when . . . dead: Bassanio pledges never to remove the ring from his finger.]
NERISSA: My lord and lady, it is now our time,
That have stood by and seen our wishes prosper, 175
To cry, good joy. Good joy, my lord and lady!
GRATIANO: My Lord Bassanio and my gentle lady,
I wish you all the joy that you can wish;
For I am sure you can wish none from me:
And when your honours mean to solemnize 180
The bargain of your faith, I do beseech you,
[when your . . . faith: When you two get married]
Even at that time I may be married too.
BASSANIO: With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.
GRATIANO: I thank your lordship, you have got me one.
My eyes, my lord, can look as swift as yours: 185
You saw the mistress, I beheld the maid;
You lov’d, I lov’d for intermission [in the meantime].
No more pertains to me, my lord, than you.
Your fortune stood upon the caskets there,
And so did mine too, as the matter falls; 190
For wooing here until I sweat again,
And swearing till my very roof was dry
With oaths of love, at last, if promise last,
[For wooing . . . oaths of love: For
wooing the maid, sweating profusely until I had nothing left, and
swearing oaths of love to her until the very roof of my mouth was dry]
I got a promise of this fair one here
To have her love, provided that your fortune 195
Achiev’d her mistress.
[provided . . . mistress: Provided that you chose the right casket and thus won her mistress]
PORTIA: Is this true, Nerissa?
NERISSA: Madam, it is, so you stand pleas’d withal.
BASSANIO: And do you, Gratiano, mean good faith?
GRATIANO: Yes, faith, my lord. 200
BASSANIO: Our feast shall be much honour’d in your marriage.
GRATIANO: We’ll play with them the first boy for a thousand ducats. [Whichever couple produces the first male infant will receive a thousand ducats.]
NERISSA: What! and stake down? [Are you going to lay down the money now?]
GRATIANO: No; we shall ne’er win at that sport, and stake down.
[No . . . down: No. We shall never win the bet if I have to put down my stake. Stake appears to have a double meaning: the obvious one, bet or wager, and the hidden one, penis.]
But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel [Jewish girlfriend]? 205
What! and my old Venetian friend, Salanio?
Enter LORENZO, JESSICA, and SALANIO.
BASSANIO: Lorenzo, and Salanio, welcome hither,
If that the youth of my new interest here [If a newcomer to Portia's household]
Have power to bid you welcome. By your leave, 210
I bid my very friends and countrymen,
Sweet Portia, welcome.
[I bid . . . welcome: Sweet Portia, I bid welcome to my friends and countrymen.]
PORTIA: So do I, my lord:
They are entirely welcome.
LORENZO: I thank your honour. For my part, my lord, 215
My purpose was not to have seen you here;
But meeting with Salanio by the way,
He did entreat me, past all saying nay,
[past . . . nay: He wouldn't take no for an answer.]
To come with him along.
SALANIO: I did, my
And I have reason for it. Signior Antonio
Commends him to you. [Gives BASSANIO a letter.
BASSANIO: Ere [before] I ope [open] his letter,
I pray you, tell me how my good friend doth.
SALANIO: Not sick, my lord, unless it be in mind; 225
Nor well, unless in mind: his letter there
Will show you his estate.
GRATIANO: Nerissa, cheer yon stranger [Jessica]; bid her welcome.
Your hand, Salanio. What’s the news from Venice?
How doth that royal merchant, good Antonio? 230
I know he will be glad of our success;
We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece.
[We are . . . fleece: In Greek mythology, the fleece
was sheared from a golden ram that was sacrificed to Zeus at Colchis, a
region along the Black Sea. Zeus was the king of the Greek gods. The Greek hero Jason retrieved the fleece
and took it back to his homeland. Here, Gratiano is saying that he and Bassanio were victorious in pursuit of love.]
SALANIO: I would you had won the fleece that he hath lost.
PORTIA: There are some shrewd contents in yon same paper,
That steal the colour from Bassanio’s cheek: 235
Some dear friend dead, else nothing in the world
Could turn so much the constitution
Of any constant man. What, worse and worse!
With leave, Bassanio; I am half yourself,
And I must freely have the half of anything 240
That this same paper brings you.
BASSANIO: O sweet Portia!
Here are a few of the unpleasant’st words
That ever blotted paper. Gentle lady,
When I did first impart my love to you, 245
I freely told you all the wealth I had
Ran in my veins, I was a gentleman:
[all the . . . veins: Nobility ran in my veins, not wealth.]
And then I told you true; and yet, dear lady,
Rating myself at nothing, you shall see
How much I was a braggart. When I told you 250
My state was nothing, I should then have told you
That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed,
[Rating . . . worse than nothing: When I said I had nothing, I was bragging. The truth is, I was deep in debt.]
I have engag’d myself financially to a dear friend [Antonio],
Engag’d my friend to his mere enemy, [bitter enemy, Shylock]
To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady; 255
The paper as the body of my friend,
And every word in it a gaping wound,
[The paper . . . wound: The letter may be compared to the body of my friend. Every word in it is a wound.]
Issuing life-blood. But is it true, Salanio?
Hath all his ventures fail’d? What, not one hit?
From Tripolis, from Mexico, and England, 260
From Lisbon, Barbary, and India?
And not one vessel ’scape [escape] the dreadful touch
Of merchant-marring rocks?
SALANIO: Not one, my lord.
Besides, it should appear, that if he had 265
The present money to discharge the Jew,
He would not take it. Never did I know
A creature, that did bear the shape of man,
So keen and greedy to confound a man.
[it should . . . confound a man:
Antonio appears to have defaulted on his debt to Shylock, exactly what Shylock
wanted to gain revenge against a Christian. But even if Antonio somehow
obtained enough money to pay off Shylock at this late date, Shylock
would not accept it. He is bent on destroying Antonio.]
He plies the duke at morning and at night, 270
And doth impeach [question] the freedom of the state,
If they deny him justice: twenty merchants,
The duke himself, and the magnificoes [great and respected men]
Of greatest port [importance], have all persuaded [reasoned] with him;
But none can drive him from the envious plea 275
Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond.
[envious . . . bond: cruel demand for justice because of Antonio's default on his pledge]
JESSICA: When I was with him, I have heard him swear
To Tubal and to Chus, his countrymen,
That he would rather have Antonio’s flesh
Than twenty times the value of the sum 280
That he [Antonio] did owe him; and I know, my lord,
If law, authority, and power deny not,
It will go hard with poor Antonio.
PORTIA: Is it your dear friend that is thus in trouble?
BASSANIO: The dearest friend to me, the kindest man, 285
The best-condition’d and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies, and one in whom
The ancient Roman honour more appears
Than any that draws breath in Italy.
PORTIA: What sum owes he the Jew? 290
BASSANIO: For me, three thousand ducats.
PORTIA: What, no more?
Pay him six thousand, and deface [eliminate; destroy; tear up] the bond;
Double six thousand, and then treble that,
Before a friend of this description 295
Shall lose a hair thorough Bassanio’s fault.
First go with me to church and call me wife,
And then away to Venice to your friend;
[then away: Then you can go]
For never shall you lie by Portia’s side
With an unquiet soul. You shall have gold 300
To pay the petty debt twenty times over:
When it is paid, bring your true friend along.
My maid Nerissa and myself meantime,
Will live as maids and widows. Come, away!
For you shall hence [go off] upon your wedding-day. 305
Bid your friends welcome, show a merry cheer;
Since you are dear bought, I will love you dear.
But let me hear the letter of your friend.
BASSANIO [reading from the letter]:
Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my creditors grow cruel,
my estate is very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit; and since, in
paying it, it is impossible I should live, all debts are cleared
between you and I, if I might but see you at my death. Notwithstanding,
use your pleasure: if your love do not persuade you to come, let not my
PORTIA: O love, dispatch all business, and be gone! 310
BASSANIO: Since I have your good leave to go away,
I will make haste; but, till I come again,
No bed shall e’er be guilty of my stay,
Nor rest be interposer ’twixt us twain. [Exeunt.
['twixt us twain: Between the two of us]
Act 3, Scene 3
Venice. A street.
Enter SHYLOCK, SALARINO, ANTONIO, and Gaoler [Jailer].
SHYLOCK: Gaoler, look to him: tell not me of mercy;
This is the fool that lent out money gratis:
Gaoler, look to him. 5
ANTONIO: Hear me yet, good Shylock.
SHYLOCK: I’ll have my bond; speak not against my bond:
I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond.
Thou call’dst me dog before thou hadst a cause,
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs: 10
The duke shall grant me justice. I do wonder,
Thou naughty gaoler, that thou art so fond
To come abroad with him at his request.
ANTONIO: I pray thee, hear me speak.
SHYLOCK: I’ll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak: 15
I’ll have my bond, and therefore speak no more.
I’ll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool,
To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield
To Christian intercessors. Follow not;
I’ll have no speaking; I will have my bond. [Exit. 20
[Follow . . . speaking: Don't follow me. I don't want to speak to you.]
SALARINO: It is the most impenetrable cur
That ever kept with men.
ANTONIO: Let him alone:
I’ll follow him no more with bootless [useless] prayers.
He seeks my life; his reason well I know. 25
I oft deliver’d from his forfeitures
Many that have at times made moan to me;
[I oft deliver'd . . . me: I often helped people who were in debt to him.]
Therefore he hates me.
SALARINO: I am sure the duke
Will never grant this forfeiture to hold. 30
ANTONIO: The duke cannot deny the course of law:
For the commodity that strangers have
With us in Venice, if it be denied,
’Twill much impeach [damage the reputation of] the justice of the state;
Since that the trade and profit of the city 35
Consisteth of all nations. Therefore, go:
These griefs and losses have so bated me,
That I shall hardly spare a pound of flesh
To-morrow to my bloody creditor.
Well, gaoler, on. Pray God, Bassanio come 40
To see me pay his debt, and then I care not! [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 4
Belmont. A Room in PORTIA’S House.
Enter PORTIA, NERISSA, LORENZO, JESSICA, and BALTHAZAR.
LORENZO: Madam, although I speak it in your presence,
You have a noble and a true conceit [understanding; appreciation; conception]
Of god-like amity [friendship]; which appears most strongly 5
In bearing thus the absence of your lord.
But if you knew to whom you show this honour,
How true a gentleman you send relief,
How dear a lover of my lord your husband,
I know you would be prouder of the work 10
Than customary bounty can enforce you.
PORTIA: I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now: for in companions
That do converse and waste the time together,
Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love, 15
There must be needs a like proportion
Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit;
[in companions . . . of spirit:
Bassanio and I enjoy conversing, spending leisure time together, and
loving each other equally. Our closeness has taught me that we are
alike in manners, spirit, and personal characteristics.]
Which makes me think that this Antonio,
Being the bosom lover of my lord,
Must needs be like my lord. If it be so, 20
How little is the cost I have bestow’d
In purchasing the semblance of my soul [Antonio, like Bassanio, is the semblance--or likeness--of her soul]
From out the state of hellish cruelty!
This comes too near the praising of myself;
Therefore, no more of it: hear other things. 25
Lorenzo, I commit into your hands
The husbandry and manage of my house
[husbandry: Management of houshold affairs]
Until my lord’s return: for mine own part,
I have toward heaven breath’d a secret vow
To live in prayer and contemplation, 30
Only attended by Nerissa here,
Until her husband and my lord’s return.
There is a monastery two miles off,
And there will we abide. I do desire you
Not to deny this imposition [not to refuse my request], 35
The which my love and some necessity
Now lays upon you.
LORENZO: Madam, with all my heart:
I shall obey you in all fair commands.
PORTIA: My people do already know my mind, 40
And will acknowledge you and Jessica
In place of Lord Bassanio and myself.
So fare you well till we shall meet again.
LORENZO: Fair thoughts and happy hours attend on you!
JESSICA: I wish your ladyship all heart’s content. 45
PORTIA: I thank you for your wish, and am well pleas’d
To wish it back on you: fare you well, Jessica. [Exeunt JESSICA and LORENZO.
As I have ever found thee honest-true,
So let me find thee still. Take this same letter, 50
And use thou all the endeavour of a man
In speed to Padua [important city in northeast Italy, about twenty-five miles west of Venice]: see thou render this
Into my cousin’s hand, Doctor Bellario;
And, look, what notes [messages or letters] and garments he doth give thee,
Bring them, I pray thee, with imagin’d speed [fastest speed you can imagine] 55
Unto the traject, to the common ferry
[traject: Means of transport]
Which trades to Venice. Waste no time in words,
But get thee gone: I shall be there before thee.
BALTHAZAR: Madam, I go with all convenient speed. [Exit.
PORTIA: Come on, Nerissa: I have work in hand 60
That you yet know not of: we’ll see our husbands
Before they think of us.
NERISSA: Shall they see us?
PORTIA: They shall, Nerissa; but in such a habit [disguise]
That they shall think we are accomplished 65
With that we lack. I’ll hold thee any wager,
[That they . . . lack: That they will take us for men]
When we are both accoutred [outfitted; dressed] like young men,
I’ll prove the prettier fellow of the two,
And wear my dagger with the braver grace,
And speak between the change of man and boy 70
[speak . . . boy: Speak like an adolescent male when his voice is changing into that of a young man]
With a reed voice [voice like that of a reed musical instrument], and turn two mincing steps
Into a manly stride, and speak of frays [fights]
Like a fine bragging youth, and tell quaint lies,
How honourable ladies sought my love,
Which I denying, they fell sick and died: 75
I could not do withal [What was I to do?]; then I’ll repent,
And wish, for all that, that I had not kill’d them:
And twenty of these puny lies I’ll tell,
That men shall swear I have discontinu’d school
Above a twelvemonth [just over a year ago]. I have within my mind 80
A thousand raw [simple; silly; childish] tricks of these bragging Jacks [fellows; knaves],
Which I will practise.
NERISSA: Why, shall we turn to men?
PORTIA: Fie, what a question’s that,
If thou wert near a lewd interpreter! 85
[what a . . . interpreter: It sounds as if you are asking whether we will turn to men for sexual favors.]
But come: I’ll tell thee all my whole device
When I am in my coach, which stays for us
At the park gate; and therefore haste away,
For we must measure twenty miles to-day. [Exeunt.
Act 3, Scene 5
Belmont. A Garden.
Enter LAUNCELOT and JESSICA.
LAUNCELOT: Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be
laid upon the children; therefore, I promise you, I fear [for] you. I was always plain with you, and so now I speak my agitation of the matter [why I am concerned about the matter]:
therefore be of good cheer; for, truly, I think you are damned. There
is but one hope in it that can do you any good, and that is but a kind
of bastard hope neither.
JESSICA: And what hope is that, I pray thee?
LAUNCELOT: Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you not,
that you are not the Jew’s daughter.
JESSICA: That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed: so the sins of my mother should be visited upon me.
LAUNCELOT: Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and mother:
thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I fall into Charybdis, your
mother: well, you are gone both ways.
[Scylla and Charybdis (SIL uh, kuh RIB dis): In Homer's Odyssey,
Scylla and Charybdis are monsters that threaten the Greek hero Odysseus
(Roman name: Ulysses)—the designer of the Trojan Horse—on his way home
from the Trojan War. Odysseus and his crewmen encounter these monsters
when passing through a strait. On a rock on one side is a six-headed
monster, Scylla; opposite the rock, near the shore on the other side,
is a whirlpool created when the sea monster Charybdis gulps water. When
the ship passes between the twin perils, Scylla stretches its necks
down and devours six of the crewmen. Over the years, writers have often
alluded to Scylla and Charybdis to describe a dilemma].
JESSICA: I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a Christian.
LAUNCELOT: Truly the more to blame he: we were Christians enow [enough]
before; e’en as many as could well live one by another. This making of
Christians will raise the price of hogs: if we grow all to be
pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for
money. [Jews generally did not
eat the meat of pigs. Launcelot is saying that if more and more Jews
become Christians, they will begin eating pork, driving up the cost of
JESSICA: I’ll tell my husband, Launcelot, what you say [Launcelot, I'll tell my husband what you say]: here he comes. 10
LORENZO: I shall grow jealous of you shortly, Launcelot, if you thus get my wife into corners.
JESSICA: Nay, you need not fear us, Lorenzo: Launcelot and I are out [Launcelot and I disagree on a matter].
He tells me flatly, there is no mercy for me in heaven, because I am a
Jew’s daughter: and he says you are no good member of the commonwealth,
for, in converting Jews to Christians, you raise the price of
LORENZO: I shall answer that better to the commonwealth than you can
the getting up of the negro’s belly: the Moor is with child by you,
[I shall . . . Launcelot: I can give a
better excuse to the state for my actions than you can in explaining
that Portia's servant, a native of north Africa, is pregnant by you,
Launcelot. Consider that I turn Jews into Christians but that you
cannot turn your black baby white.]
LAUNCELOT: It is much that the Moor should be more than reason; but if
she be less than an honest woman, she is indeed more than I took her
[It is . . . her for: It is a
matter of much concern that the Moor is pregnant. But if she is less
than virtuous, she is at least more than I expected. (Note the use of Moor and more in the first clause and more in the second clause. Lorenzo answers Launcelot's punning, or play on words, in the next line.]
LORENZO: How every fool can play upon the word! I think the best
grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and discourse grow
commendable in none only but parrots. Go in, sirrah: bid them prepare
[How every . . . parrots: Any fool can
make a pun. I think the wittiest thing we can do now is keep
quiet. Only parrots should be allowed to talk.]
LAUNCELOT: That is done, sir; they have all stomachs.
LORENZO: Goodly Lord, what a wit-snapper are you! then bid them prepare [cook; make] dinNERISSA:
LAUNCELOT: That is done too, sir; only, ‘cover’ is the word.
LORENZO: Will you cover [put on a tablecloth and set the places], then, sir? 20
LAUNCELOT: Not so, sir, neither; I know my duty. [Launcelot
says he will not cover his head—that is, put on a hat, which would
make him the equal of nobles and other important people wearing hats.]
LORENZO: Yet more quarrelling with occasion! Wilt thou show
the whole wealth of thy wit in an instant? I pray thee, understand a
plain man in his plain meaning: go to thy fellows; bid them cover the
table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to
LAUNCELOT: For the table, sir, it shall be served in; for the
meat, sir, it shall be covered [have lids and tops]; for your coming in to dinner, sir, why,
let it be as humours and conceits shall govern [let it be as your mood and wishes dictate]. [Exit.
LORENZO: O dear discretion, how his words are suited! [how he uses words to create double meanings!]
The fool hath planted in his memory 25
An army of good words: and I do know
A many fools, that stand in better place,
Garnish’d like him, that for a tricksy word
Defy the matter. How cheer’st thou, Jessica?
[I do know . . . the matter: I
do know many jesters at royal courts who talk the way he does to get a
laugh or divert attention from the matter at hand.]
And now, good sweet, say thy opinion; 30
How dost thou like the Lord Bassanio’s wife?
JESSICA: Past all expressing. It is very meet [appropriate; right and proper],
The Lord Bassanio live an upright life,
For, having such a blessing in his lady,
He finds the joys of heaven here on earth; 35
And if on earth he do not mean it, then
In reason he should never come to heaven.
[And if . . . heaven: And if on earth he does not live a life that merits his lady's approval, he should be banned from heaven.]
Why, if two gods should play some heavenly match,
And on the wager lay two earthly women,
And Portia one, there must be something else 40
Pawn’d with the other, for the poor rude world
Hath not her fellow.
[there must . . . fellow: There must
be something of great value added to the other woman to make her worthy
of the competition. The fact is, she has no equal in all the world.]
LORENZO: Even such a husband
Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.
[Even such . . . wife: I am as a good a husband to you as she is to Bassanio.]
JESSICA: Nay, but ask my opinion too of that. 45
[Nay . . . that: Ask me what I think of you as a husband.]
LORENZO: I will anon [soon]; first, let us go to dinNERISSA:
JESSICA: Nay, let me praise you while I have a stomach.
[Nay . . . stomach: First, let me say some nice things about you while I have the appetite to do so.]
LORENZO: No, pray thee, let it serve for table-talk;
Then howsoe’er thou speak’st, ’mong other things
I shall digest it. 50
[Then . . . digest it: Then, whatever you say about me, I'll digest it—along with the food I am eating.]
JESSICA: Well, I’ll set you forth. [Why, then, I'll present you as one of the dishes.] [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 1
Venice. A Court of Justice.
Enter the DUKE: the Magnificoes; ANTONIO, BASSANIO, GRATIANO, SALARINO, SALANIO, and Others.
DUKE: What, is Antonio here?
ANTONIO: Ready, so please your Grace.
DUKE: I am sorry for thee: thou art come to answer 5
A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch
Uncapable of pity, void and empty
From any dram of mercy.
ANTONIO: I have heard
Your Grace hath ta’en great pains to qualify [soften; restrain; moderate] 10
His rigorous course; but since he stands obdurate,
And that no lawful means can carry me
Out of his envy’s reach, I do oppose
[envy: This word was once used to mean evildoing or malice.]
My patience to his fury, and am arm’d
To suffer with a quietness of spirit 15
The very tyranny and rage of his.
DUKE: Go one, and call the Jew into the court. [One of you go out and call the Jew into this court.]
SALARINO: He’s ready at the door: he comes, my lord.
DUKE: Make room, and let him stand before our face. 20
Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
That thou but lead’st this fashion of thy malice
To the last hour of act; and then ’tis thought
Thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
Than is thy strange-apparent cruelty; 25
[Shylock . . . cruelty: Shylock,
everyone thinks—as I do—that you plan to press your claim for a pound
of Antonio's flesh right up to the last moment before the sentence is
carried out. Then, at that same moment, you will withdraw your claim in
a show of mercy.]
And where thou now exact’st the penalty,—
Which is a pound of this poor merchant’s flesh,—
Thou wilt not only loose the forfeiture [cancel his debt of flesh to you],
But, touch’d with human gentleness and love,
Forgive a moiety [a part] of the principal; 30
Glancing an eye of pity on his losses,
That have of late so huddled on his back,
Enow [enough] to press a royal merchant down,
And pluck commiseration of his state
From brassy bosoms and rough hearts of flint, 35
[And pluck . . . flint: And engender sympathy for his sorry state from even hard-hearted women and men]
From stubborn Turks and Tartars, never train’d
To offices of tender courtesy.
We all expect a gentle answer, Jew.
SHYLOCK: I have possess’d [told; informed] your Grace of what I purpose [what my purpose is];
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn 40
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter [authority, which can be taken away] and your city’s freedom.
You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh than to receive 45
Three thousand ducats: I’ll not answer that:
But say it is my humour [desire; whim]: is it answer’d [is that the answer you are looking for]?
What if my house be troubled with a rat,
And I be pleas’d to give ten thousand ducats
To have it ban’d [baned—that is, poisoned]? What, are you answer’d yet? 50
Some men there are love not a gaping pig [roasted pig with a fruit in its mouth];
Some, that are mad if they behold a cat;
And others, when the bagpipe sings i’ the nose [when the bagpipe plays],
Cannot contain their urine: for affection [my natural inclination; my predisposition],
Mistress of passion, sways it to the mood 55
Of what it likes, or loathes. Now, for your answer:
As there is no firm reason to be render’d [As there is no exact reason to explain my desire],
Why he cannot abide a gaping pig;
Why he, a harmless necessary cat;
Why he, a wauling [wailing] bagpipe; but of force 60
Must yield to such inevitable shame
As to offend, himself being offended;
[Why he cannot . . . offended: A
man would be shamed for explaining why he cannot tolerate a gaping pig,
a cat, and bagpipes. He is offended by these things, but he would
offend others by explaining his feelings.]
So can I give no reason, nor I will not,
More than a lodg’d [fierce; imbedded] hate and a certain loathing
I bear Antonio, that I follow thus 65
A losing suit [an unprofitable legal claim] against him. Are you answer’d?
BASSANIO: This is no answer, thou unfeeling man.
To excuse the current [flow] of thy cruelty.
SHYLOCK: I am not bound to please thee with my answer.
BASSANIO: Do all men kill the things they do not love? 70
SHYLOCK: Hates any man the thing he would not kill? [Doesn't every man want to kill the thing that he hates?]
BASSANIO: Every offence is not a hate at first. [The first time someone offends you, you shouldn't hate him.]
SHYLOCK: What! wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?
ANTONIO: I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
[think you . . . Jew: Don't think you can argue with a Jew.]
You may as well go stand upon the beach, 75
And bid the main flood [ocean] bate [lessen; decrease; abate] his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf,
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;
You may as well forbid the mountain pines
To wag their high tops, and to make no noise 80
When they are fretted [blown this way and that] with the gusts of heaven;
You may as well do anything most hard,
As seek to soften that—than which what’s harder?—
His Jewish heart: therefore, I do beseech you,
Make no more offers, use no further means; 85
But with all brief and plain conveniency,
Let me have judgment, and the Jew his will.
BASSANIO: For thy three thousand ducats here is six.
SHYLOCK: If every ducat in six thousand ducats
Were in six parts and every part a ducat, 90
I would not draw them; I would have my bond.
DUKE: How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?
SHYLOCK: What judgment shall I dread, doing no wrong?
You have among you many a purchas’d slave,
Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules, 95
You use in abject and in slavish parts,
Because you bought them: shall I say to you,
Let them be free, marry them to your heirs?
Why sweat they under burdens? let their beds
Be made as soft as yours, and let their palates 100
Be season’d with such viands [delicious foods]? You will answer:
‘The slaves are ours:’ so do I answer you:
The pound of flesh which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; ’tis mine and I will have it.
If you deny me, fie upon your law! 105
There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
DUKE: Upon my power I may dismiss this court,
Unless Bellario, a learned doctor,
Whom I have sent for to determine this, 110
Come here to-day.
SALARINO: My lord, here stays without
A messenger with letters from the doctor,
New come from Padua.
DUKE: Bring us the letters: call the messenger. 115
BASSANIO: Good cheer, Antonio! What, man, courage yet!
The Jew shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all,
Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood.
ANTONIO: I am a tainted wether [castrated male sheep] of the flock,
Meetest for death: the weakest kind of fruit 120
Drops earliest to the ground; and so let me:
You cannot better be employ’d, Bassanio,
Than to live still, and write mine epitaph.
Enter NERISSA, dressed like a lawyer’s clerk.
DUKE: Came you from Padua, from Bellario? 125
NERISSA: From both, my lord. Bellario greets your Grace. [Presents a letter.
BASSANIO: Why dost thou whet [sharpen] thy knife so earnestly? [Shylock sharpens his knife on the sole of his shoe.]
SHYLOCK: To cut the forfeiture from that bankrupt there.
GRATIANO: Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou mak’st thy knife keen; but no metal can, 130
No, not the hangman’s axe, bear half the keenness
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?
SHYLOCK: No, none that thou hast wit [intelligence] enough to make.
GRATIANO: O, be thou damn’d, inexecrable dog [person who cannot be denounced enough]!
And for thy life let justice be accus’d.
[And for . . . accus'd: You deserve to die. But if you do not, justice should be accused of sparing a hateful criminal.] 135
Thou almost mak’st me waver in my faith
To hold opinion with Pythagoras,
That souls of animals infuse themselves
Into the trunks of men: thy currish spirit
Govern’d a wolf, who, hang’d for human slaughter, 140
Even from the gallows did his fell [deadly; evil] soul fleet,
And whilst thou lay’st in thy unhallow’d dam,
Infus’d itself in thee; for thy desires
Are wolfish, bloody, starv’d, and ravenous.
[Thou almost . . . ravenous: You
me believe, against my Christian faith, what the ancient Greek
Pythagoras said: that the souls of animals are reborn in human bodies.
Before you were born, your future soul inhabited a wolf when it
humans. When it hanged for its deed, its soul left its body and lodged
in you while you were in your mother's womb. Now you are a bloody and
SHYLOCK: Till thou canst rail [cancel; undo] the seal from off my
Thou but offend’st [tax; injure] thy lungs to speak so loud:
Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall
To cureless ruin. I stand here for law.
DUKE: This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor [Portia in the disguise of an attorney] to our court. 150
Where is he?
NERISSA: He attendeth here hard by,
To know your answer, whether you’ll admit him.
DUKE: With all my heart: some three or four of you
Go give him courteous conduct to this place. 155
Meantime, the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.
Clerk. Your Grace shall understand that at the receipt of your letter I am
very sick; but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving
visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthazar. I
acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and
Antonio the merchant: we turned o’er many books together: he is
furnished with my opinion; which, bettered with his own learning,—the
greatness whereof I cannot enough commend,—comes with him, at my
importunity, to fill up your Grace’s request in my stead. I beseech
you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend
estimation, for I never knew so young a body with so old [wise] a head. I
leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish
DUKE: You hear the learn’d Bellario, what he writes:
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws. 160
Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario?
PORTIA: I did, my lord.
DUKE: You are welcome: take your place.
Are you acquainted with the difference
That holds this present question in the court? 165
PORTIA: I am informed throughly [thoroughly] of the cause.
Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?
DUKE: Antonio and old Shylock, both stand forth.
PORTIA: Is your name Shylock?
SHYLOCK: Shylock is my
PORTIA: Of a strange nature is the suit you follow;
Yet in such rule that the Venetian law
Cannot impugn you as you do proceed.
[To ANTONIO.] You stand within his danger, do you not?
ANTONIO: Ay, so he says. 175
PORTIA: Do you confess the bond?
ANTONIO: I do.
PORTIA: Then must the Jew be merciful.
SHYLOCK: On what compulsion must I? tell me that.
PORTIA: The quality [nature; essence] of mercy is not strain’d [forced; imposed], 180
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives [mercy] and him that takes [mercy]:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown; 185
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, 190
It is an attribute to God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
[show likest: Resemble; look like]
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us 195
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy,
[Though justice . . . salvation: Though you are pleading for justice, consider that justice alone won't win your salvation.]
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
[To mitigate . . . plea: To lessen the severity of your plea; to persude you to give up your plea; to be merciful]
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice 200
Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant there.
[Which if . . . there: But if you
continue to pursue this case, the court will have no choice but to
carry out the sentence against him.]
SHYLOCK: My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.
[My deeds . . . bond: I take full responsibility for my actions! And I
stand on the law, which should grant me satisfaction for Antonio's
failure to meet his obligation.]
PORTIA: Is he not able to discharge the money?
BASSANIO: Yes, here I tender it for him in the court; 205
Yea, twice the sum: if that will not suffice,
I will be bound to pay it ten times o’er,
On forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart.
If this will not suffice, it must appear
That malice bears down truth. And, I beseech you, 210
Wrest once the law to your authority:
[Wrest . . . authority: Seize the law, Duke, and place it under your authority.]
To do a great right, do a little wrong,
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
PORTIA: It must not be. There is no power in Venice
Can alter a decree established: 215
’Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error by the same example
Will rush into the state. It cannot be.
SHYLOCK: A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
[Daniel: In the Book of Daniel in the
Roman Catholic and certain other versions of the Old Testament, Daniel
skillfully interrogates two men who accuse a woman named Susanna (also
called Shoshana) of adultery. His questioning—not unlike that of
a brilliant lawyer—exposes the men as liars.]
O wise young judge, how I do honour thee! 220
PORTIA: I pray you, let me look upon the bond.
SHYLOCK: Here ’tis, most reverend doctor; here it is.
PORTIA: Shylock, there’s thrice thy money offer’d thee.
SHYLOCK: An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:
Shall I lay perjury upon my soul? 225
No, not for Venice.
PORTIA: Why, this bond is forfeit [has been violated];
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
Nearest the merchant’s heart. Be merciful: 230
Take thrice thy money; bid me tear the bond.
SHYLOCK: When it is paid according to the tenour [dictates of the bond].
It doth appear you are a worthy judge;
You know the law, your exposition [analysis]
Hath been most sound: I charge you by the law, 235
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me. I stay here on my bond.
ANTONIO: Most heartily I do beseech the court 240
To give the judgment.
PORTIA: Why then, thus it is:
You must prepare your bosom for his knife.
SHYLOCK: O noble judge! O excellent young man!
PORTIA: For, the intent and purpose of the law 245
Hath full relation to the penalty,
[Hath . . . to: Sanctions; approves of]
Which here appeareth due upon the bond.
SHYLOCK: ’Tis very true! O wise and upright judge!
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
[How much . . . looks: You have the wisdom of an old man even though you are young.]
PORTIA: Therefore lay bare your bosom. 250
SHYLOCK: Ay, ‘his breast:’
So says the bond:—doth it not, noble judge?—
‘Nearest his heart:’ those are the very words.
PORTIA: It is so. Are there balance [weighing device; scales] here to weigh
The flesh? 255
SHYLOCK: I have them ready.
PORTIA: Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death.
SHYLOCK: Is it so nominated in the bond?
PORTIA: It is not so express’d; but what of that? 260
’Twere good you do so much for charity.
SHYLOCK: I cannot find it: ’tis not in the bond.
PORTIA: You, merchant, have you anything to say?
ANTONIO: But little: I am arm’d and well prepar’d.
Give me your hand, Bassanio: fare you well! 265
Grieve not that I am fallen to this for you;
For herein Fortune shows herself more kind
Than is her custom: it is still her use [habit; inclination]
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth,
To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow 270
An age of poverty; from which lingering penance
Of such a misery doth she cut me off.
[Grieve not . . . cut me off: Don't
mourn for me when I am gone. Here is why: Fortune (Lady Luck; the
goddess of fortune) usually directs that men outlive their wealth.
Thus, when they are old and wrinkled, they live in poverty. But Fortune
cuts me off from this fate, since I will die now and never become old
Commend me to your honourable wife:
Tell her the process of Antonio’s end;
Say how I lov’d you, speak me fair in death; 275
And, when the tale is told, bid her be judge
Whether Bassanio had not once a love.
Repent not you that you shall lose your friend,
And he repents not that he pays your debt;
[And he . . . debt: Antonio does not regret having to pay Bassanio's debt with his life.]
For if the Jew do cut but deep enough, 280
I’ll pay it instantly with all my heart.
BASSANIO: Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem’d above thy life: 285
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all,
Here to this devil, to deliver you.
PORTIA: Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by to hear you make the offer.
GRATIANO: I have a wife, whom, I protest, I love: 290
I would she were in heaven, so she could
Entreat some power to change this currish Jew.
NERISSA: ’Tis well you offer it behind her back;
The wish would make else an unquiet house.
[The wish . . . house: If she had heard what you said, she would be angry.]
SHYLOCK: These be the Christian husbands! I have a
Would any of the stock of Barabbas
[Barabbas: In the New Testament, a
Jewish thief released from custody after the Roman governor of
Judea, Pontius Pilate, offered to free either Jesus Christ or Barabbas
during Passover in Jerusalem. The crowd gathered before Pilate chose
Barabbas. Christ was then crucified.]
Had been her husband rather than a Christian!
We trifle time; I pray thee, pursue sentence.
PORTIA: A pound of that same merchant’s flesh is thine:
The court awards it, and the law doth give it. 300
SHYLOCK: Most rightful judge!
PORTIA: And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:
The law allows it, and the court awards it.
SHYLOCK: Most learned judge! A sentence! come, prepare!
PORTIA: Tarry a little: there is something else. 305
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh:’
Then take thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods 310
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
GRATIANO: O upright judge! Mark, Jew: O learned judge!
SHYLOCK: Is that the law?
PORTIA: Thyself shalt see
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d
Thou shalt have justice, more than thou desir’st.
GRATIANO: O learned judge! Mark, Jew: a learned judge!
SHYLOCK: I take this offer then: pay the bond thrice,
And let the Christian go. 320
BASSANIO: Here is the money.
PORTIA: Soft! [Wait a minute!]
The Jew shall have all justice; soft! no haste:—
He shall have nothing but the penalty.
GRATIANO: O Jew! an upright judge, a learned judge! 325
PORTIA: Therefore prepare thee to cut off the flesh.
Shed thou no blood; nor cut thou less, nor more,
But just a pound of flesh: if thou tak’st more,
Or less, than a just pound, be it but so much
As makes it light or heavy in the substance, 330
Or the division of the twentieth part
Of one poor scruple [unit of weight equaling less than one-twentieth of an ounce], nay, if the scale do turn
But in the estimation of a hair,
Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate [will be confiscated].
GRATIANO: A second Daniel, a Daniel, Jew! 335
Now, infidel, I have thee on the hip.
[on . . . hip: At a disadvantage]
PORTIA: Why doth the Jew pause? take thy forfeiture.
SHYLOCK: Give me my principal [the amount lent (3,000 ducats), minus interest], and let me go.
BASSANIO: I have it ready for thee; here it is.
PORTIA: He hath refus’d it in the open court: 340
He shall have merely justice, and his bond.
GRATIANO: A Daniel, still say I; a second Daniel!
I thank thee, Jew, for teaching me that word.
SHYLOCK: Shall I not have barely my principal?
PORTIA: Thou shalt have nothing but the forfeiture, 345
To be so taken at thy peril, Jew.
SHYLOCK: Why, then the devil give him good of it!
I’ll stay no longer question.
[Why, then . . . question: Then let the devil deal with him. As for me, I do not wish to continue this argument.]
PORTIA: Tarry, Jew:
The law hath yet another hold on you. 350
It is enacted in the laws of Venice,
If it be prov’d against an alien
That by direct or indirect attempts
He seek the life of any citizen,
The party ’gainst the which he doth contrive 355
Shall seize one half his goods; the other half
Comes to the privy coffer of the state [the state treasury];
And the offender’s life lies in the mercy
Of the duke only, ’gainst all other voice.
In which predicament, I say, thou stand’st; 360
For it appears by manifest proceeding,
That indirectly and directly too
Thou hast contriv’d against the very life
Of the defendant; and thou hast incurr’d
The danger formerly by me rehears’d. 365
[The danger . . . rehears'd: The penalty of which I have just spoken]
Down therefore and beg mercy of the duke.
GRATIANO: Beg that thou mayst have leave to hang thyself:
And yet, thy wealth being forfeit to the state,
Thou hast not left the value of a cord [rope to hang himself];
Therefore thou must be hang’d at the state’s charge. 370
DUKE: That thou shalt see the difference of our spirits;
I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it.
For half thy wealth, it is Antonio’s;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive into a fine. 375
PORTIA: Ay, for the state; not for Antonio.
[The other half . . . for Antonio: The
other half of your possessions goes to the state treasury. But if you
exhibit humility—if you apologize and admit you were wrong—I can
reduce the amount the state will take from you.]
SHYLOCK: Nay, take my life and all [You might as well kill me and take everything dear to me]; pardon not that:
You take my house when you do take the prop [money]
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live. 380
PORTIA: What mercy can you render him, Antonio?
GRATIANO: A halter [noose] gratis [free of charge]; nothing else, for God’s sake!
ANTONIO: So please my lord the duke, and all the court,
To quit [set] the fine for one half of his goods,
I am content; so he will let me have 385
The other half in use, to render it,
Upon his death, unto the gentleman
That lately stole his daughter:
Two things provided more, that, for this favour,
He presently become a Christian; 390
The other, that he do record a gift,
Here in the court, of all he dies possess’d,
Unto his son [son-in-law] Lorenzo, and his daughter.
DUKE: He shall do this, or else I do recant
The pardon that I late pronounced here. 395
PORTIA: Art thou contented, Jew? what dost thou say?
SHYLOCK: I am content.
PORTIA: Clerk, draw a deed of gift.
SHYLOCK: I pray you give me leave to go from hence:
I am not well. Send the deed after me, 400
And I will sign it.
DUKE: Get thee gone, but do it.
GRATIANO: In christening thou shalt have two god-fathers;
Had I been judge, thou shouldst have had ten more,
[two . . . ten more: Two and ten make twelve for a jury that would find Shylock guilty and sentence him to death]
To bring thee to the gallows, not the font. [ [Exit
[font: In a church, a basin containing water to baptize a person]
DUKE: Sir, I entreat you home with me to dinNERISSA:
PORTIA: I humbly do desire your Grace of pardon:
I must away this night toward Padua,
And it is meet [necessary] I presently set forth.
DUKE: I am sorry that your leisure serves you not. 410
Antonio, gratify this gentleman,
For, in my mind, you are much bound to him. [Exeunt DUKE, Magnificoes, and Train.
BASSANIO: Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
Of grievous penalties; in lieu whereof, 415
Three thousand ducats, due unto the Jew,
We freely cope your courteous pains withal.
[We . . . withal: We freely give to you to compensate you for the inconvenience you endured in overseeing this trial]
ANTONIO: And stand indebted, over and above,
In love and service to you evermore.
PORTIA: He is well paid that is well satisfied; 420
And I, delivering you, am satisfied,
And therein do account myself well paid:
My mind was never yet more mercenary.
[He is . . . mercenary: Being well
satisfied with the outcome of this proceeding is enough payment for me.
My mind was never focused on making money.]
I pray you, know me when we meet again:
[I pray . . . again: I pray that we shall meet again.]
I wish you well, and so I take my leave. 425
BASSANIO: Dear sir, of force I must attempt [talk with; detain] you further:
Take some remembrance of us, as a tribute,
Not as a fee. Grant me two things, I pray you,
Not to deny me, and to pardon me.
[Not to deny . . . pardon me: Don't deny my request but pardon me for boldly presenting it.]
PORTIA: You press me far, and therefore I will yield. 430
[To ANTONIO:] Give me your gloves, I’ll wear them for your sake;
[To BASSANIO:] And, for your love, I’ll take this ring from you.
Do not draw back your hand; I’ll take no more;
And you in love shall not deny me this.
BASSANIO: This ring, good sir? alas! it is a trifle; 435
I will not shame myself to give you this.
PORTIA: I will have nothing else but only this;
And now methinks I have a mind to it.
BASSANIO: There’s more depends on this than on the value.
The dearest ring in Venice will I give you, 440
And find it out by proclamation:
Only for this, I pray you, pardon me.
[There's more . . . pardon me: It's
not the value of this ring that makes me want to keep it; rather, it is
what it means to me. In place of it, I'll give you the most expensive
ring in Venice after I find out where it is. I pray you, pardon me for
insisting on keeping the ring.]
PORTIA: I see, sir, you are liberal in offers:
You taught me first to beg, and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answer’d. 445
BASSANIO: Good sir, this ring was given me by my wife;
And, when she put it on, she made me vow
That I should never sell nor give nor lose it.
PORTIA: That ’scuse [excuse] serves many men to save their gifts.
An if your wife be not a mad-woman, 450
And know how well I have deserv’d the ring,
She would not hold out enemy for ever,
For giving it to me. Well, peace be with you. [Exeunt PORTIA and NERISSA.
[She would . . . me: She would not be cross with you forever for giving me the ring.]
ANTONIO: My Lord Bassanio, let him have the ring:
Let his deservings and my love withal 455
Be valu’d ’gainst your wife’s commandment.
BASSANIO: Go, Gratiano; run and overtake him;
Give him the ring, and bring him, if thou canst,
Unto Antonio’s house. Away! make haste. [Exit GRATIANO.
Come, you and I will thither [go to your house] presently, 460
And in the morning early will we both
Fly toward Belmont. Come, Antonio. [Exeunt.
Act 4, Scene 2
Venice. A Street.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA.
PORTIA: Inquire the Jew’s house out, give him this deed,
And let him sign it. We’ll away to-night,
And be a day before our husbands home [come home]: 5
This deed will be well welcome to Lorenzo.
GRATIANO: Fair sir, you are well o’erta’en [overtaken].
My Lord Bassanio upon more advice
Hath sent you here this ring, and doth entreat 10
Your company at dinNERISSA:
PORTIA: That cannot be:
His ring I do accept most thankfully;
And so, I pray you, tell him: furthermore,
I pray you, show my youth old Shylock’s house. 15
GRATIANO: That will I do.
NERISSA: Sir, I would speak with you.
[Aside to PORTIA.] I’ll see if I can get my husband’s ring,
Which I did make him swear to keep for ever.
PORTIA: Thou mayst, I warrant. We shall have old swearing 20
[old swearing: In this phrase, old means much or a lot of. Swearing means vowing.]
That they did give the rings away to men;
But we’ll outface them, and outswear them too.
Away! make haste: thou know’st where I will tarry.
NERISSA: Come, good sir, will you show me to this house? [Exeunt.
Act 5, Scene 1
Belmont. The Avenue to PORTIA’S House.
Enter LORENZO and JESSICA.
LORENZO: The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night 5
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,
And sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid [Cressida] lay that night.
[Troilus . . . that night: In
Greek mythology, Troilus was a prince of Troy when the Greeks attacked
that city to ignite the Trojan War. He loved a Trojan maid named
Cressida. But she abandoned him for a Greek warrior named Diomedes.
After leaving the walled city of Troy, she walked across the
battlefield to the Greek camp and presented herself to Diomedes in his
JESSICA: In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew, 10
And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself,
And ran dismay’d away.
[Thisbe: In ancient mythology, Thisbe
loved Pyramus. Both Babylonians, they were the subject of a story by Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) in his long poem Metamorphoses.
When Pyramus thinks a lion has killed Thisbe, he kills himself. Thisbe
is still alive, however. But when she discovers the body of Pyramus,
she also kills herself.]
LORENZO: In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love 15
To come again to Carthage.
[Dido: Queen of Carthage in the Aeneid,
an epic poem by the Roman author Vergil (70-19 BC). This poem centers
on the exploits of Aeneas, a warrior prince of the ancient city of
Troy. After the Greeks defeated the Trojans in the Trojan War, Aeneas
escapes the marauding Greeks and sails to Italy, where he founds the
Roman civilization. On his way to Italy, he and his men stop at
Carthage in North Africa. There, Aeneas and Dido have a love affair.
After Aeneas leaves her to seek his destiny in Italy, Dido observes his
departure, brokenhearted. She kills herself.]
JESSICA: In such a night
Medea gather’d the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Aeson.
[Medea: In Greek mythology, the wife
of Jason, who undertook a perilous journey during which he retrieved
the fabled Golden Fleece. Medea used her magical powers to turn Jason's
elderly father, Aeson, into a vigorous young man.]
LORENZO: In such a
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with an unthrift [spendthrift; prodigal; lavish] love did run from Venice,
As far as Belmont.
JESSICA: In such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he lov’d her well, 25
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne’er a true one.
LORENZO: In such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her. 30
JESSICA: I would out-night you, did no body come;
But, hark! I hear the footing of a man.
[I would . . . of a man: I would outdo
you with colorful language beginning with "in such a night" if nobody
interrupted us. But I hear the footsteps of a man coming toward us.]
LORENZO: Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
Steph. A friend. 35
LORENZO: A friend! what friend? your name, I pray you, friend.
Steph. Stephano is my name; and I bring word
My mistress will before the break of day
Be here at Belmont: she doth stray about
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays 40
For happy wedlock hours.
LORENZO: Who comes with her?
Steph. None, but a holy hermit and her maid.
[hermit: There is no hermit with
Portia. She is pretending that there is in order to support her excuse
for leaving Belmont to act as Antonio's lawyer. See lines 26-33 in Act
3, Scene 4.]
I pray you, is my master yet return’d?
LORENZO: He is not, nor we have not heard from him. 45
But go we in, I pray thee, Jessica,
And ceremoniously let us prepare
Some welcome for the mistress of the house.
LAUNCELOT: Sola, sola [cry for attention; sound of a horn blown by a postman]! wo ha, ho! sola, sola! 50
LORENZO: Who calls?
LAUNCELOT: Sola! did you see Master Lorenzo?
Master Lorenzo! sola, sola!
LORENZO: Leave hollaing, man; here.
LAUNCELOT: Sola! where? where? 55
LAUNCELOT: Tell him there’s a post come from my master, with
his horn full of good news: my master will be here ere [before] morning.
LORENZO: Sweet soul, let’s in, and there expect their coming.
And yet no matter; why should we go in?
My friend Stephano, signify, I pray you, 60
Within the house, your mistress is at hand;
And bring your music forth into the air. [Exit STEPHANO.
[My friend . . . the air: Stephano, my
friend, please signify to those in the house that Portia will soon
arrive. Then tell some musicians to come outside and play.]
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night 65
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica: look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines [sheens] of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings, 70
Still quiring [choiring; singing] to the young-eyed cherubins [angels depicted as adorable children];
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
[Such harmony . . . hear it: Such
singing comes naturally to immortal creatures. However, on this muddy,
decaying earth, we humans cannot hear it.]
Enter Musicians. 75
Come, ho! and wake Diana with a hymn:
[Diana: In ancient mythology, the
Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of
the moon, of hunting, and—being a virgin—of chastity. She loved a
shepherd named Endymion.]
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music. [Music.
JESSICA: I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
LORENZO: The reason is, your spirits are attentive [you listen carefully]: 80
For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
Fetching mad bounds [wildly jumping around], bellowing and neighing loud,
Which is the hot condition of their blood [which is natural for them to do];
If they but hear perchance a trumpet sound, 85
Or any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turn’d to a modest gaze
By the sweet power of music: therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods; 90
[therefore . . . floods: Orpheus was
the greatest musician in the legends and myths of ancient Greece. So
good was he—said the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos (a Greek
island)—that he could make rocks and trees dance merely by playing his
lyre and singing a song.]
Since nought [nothing; no one] so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
[Since . . . rage: No one is so stupid (stockish), insensitive, or angry]
But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; 95
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
[Erebus: In Greek mythology, a region
of darkness between earth and the Underworld (Hades). The souls of the
dead passed through it to reach Hades.]
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA, at a distance.
PORTIA: That light we see is burning in my hall. 100
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
NERISSA: When the moon shone, we did not see the candle.
PORTIA: So doth the greater glory dim the less:
A substitute shines brightly as a king 105
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main of waters. Music! hark!
NERISSA: It is your music, madam, of the house.
[It is . . . house: Your musicians are playing, madam. The sound is coming from your house.]
PORTIA: Nothing is good, I see, without respect: 110
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
[Nothing . . . by day: Nothing can be
called good unless it is compared to something else. In this case, I
think music played at night sounds much sweeter than music played
during the day.]
NERISSA: Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
[Silence . . . madam: The silence of the night makes night music better; there are no competing sounds.]
PORTIA: The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended, and I think
[The crow . . . attended: The crow sings as sweetly as the lark when no one is around to hear their songs.]
The nightingale, if she should sing by day, 115
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
How many things by season season’d are
To their right praise and true perfection!
[How many . . . perfection: How many
things are brought to perfection by what's around them: darkness,
silence, the absence of listeners, etc.]
Peace, ho! the moon sleeps with Endymion, 120
And would not be awak’d! [Music ceases.
LORENZO: That is the voice,
Or I am much deceiv’d, of Portia.
PORTIA: He knows me, as the blind man knows the cuckoo,
By the bad voice. 125
LORENZO: Dear lady, welcome home.
PORTIA: We have been praying for our husbands’ welfare,
Which speed, we hope, the better for our words.
[Which speed . . . words: We hope our prayers speed to heaven and assure their well-being.]
Are they return’d?
LORENZO: Madam, they are
But there is come a messenger before,
To signify their coming.
PORTIA: Go in, Nerissa:
Give order to my servants that they take
No note at all of our being absent hence; 135
[Give order . . . hence: Order my servants not to say anything about our absence from Belmont to attend Antonio's trial.]
Nor you, Lorenzo; Jessica, nor you. [A tucket [trumpet] sounds.
LORENZO: Your husband is at hand; I hear his trumpet:
We are no tell-tales [we will keep your secret], madam; fear you not.
PORTIA: This night methinks is but the daylight sick;
It looks a little paler: ’tis a day, 140
Such as the day is when the sun is hid.
Enter BASSANIO, ANTONIO, GRATIANO, and their Followers.
BASSANIO: We should hold day with the Antipodes
If you would walk in absence of the sun.
[We should . . . sun: The
antipodes are two regions on earth that are diametrically opposite each
other. If you drove an ice pick completely through a rubber ball
(imagining that it is the earth), passing the pick through the exact
center of the ball, the entry point of the tip of the pick would be the
antipodes of the exit point of the tip. The antipodes of Venice is a
point in the South Pacific. When it is midnight at one antipode, it is
noon at the other. What Bassanio is saying here is that whenever Portia
walks in shadows or darkness, her shining presence makes everything
bright—as if she were the antipodes of a dark region.]
PORTIA: Let me give light, but let me not be light [promiscuous; unfaithful]; 145
For a light wife doth make a heavy husband,
And never be Bassanio so for me:
But God sort all! You are welcome home, my lord.
BASSANIO: I thank you, madam. Give welcome to my friend:
This is the man, this is Antonio, 150
To whom I am so infinitely bound.
PORTIA: You should in all sense be much bound to him,
For, as I hear, he was much bound for you.
ANTONIO: No more than I am well acquitted of. [My troubles have ended.]
PORTIA: Sir, you are very welcome to our house: 155
It must appear in other ways than words,
Therefore I scant this breathing courtesy.
[It must . . . courtesy: Your welcome must be supported with meaningful gestures rather than the courteous words I breathe.]
GRATIANO: [To NERISSA.] By yonder moon I swear you do me wrong;
In faith, I gave it to the judge’s clerk:
Would he were gelt [gelded, castrated] that had it, for my part, 160
Since you do take it, love, so much at heart.
PORTIA: A quarrel, ho, already! what’s the matter?
GRATIANO: About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring
That she did give me, whose posy [poetic line or motto engraved on a ring or trinket]
For all the world like cutlers’ [cutler: maker or seller of knives] poetry 165
Upon a knife, ‘Love me, and leave me not.’
NERISSA: What talk you of the posy, or the value?
You swore to me, when I did give it you,
That you would wear it till your hour of death,
And that it should lie with you in your grave: 170
Though not for me, yet for your vehement oaths,
You should have been respective [respectful; careful] and have kept it.
Gave it a judge’s clerk! no, God’s my judge,
The clerk will ne’er wear hair [a beard] on ’s [on his] face that had it.
[The clerk . . . had it: Nerissa is suggesting that Gratiano gave the ring to a woman.]
GRATIANO: He will, an if he live to be a man. 175
NERISSA: Ay, if a woman live to be a man.
GRATIANO: Now, by this hand, I gave it to a youth,
A kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy,
[scrubbed: Scrubby—that is, insignificant, shabby, or undersized]
No higher than thyself, the judge’s clerk.
A prating [chattering; given to idle talk] boy, that begg’d it as a fee: 180
I could not for my heart deny it him.
PORTIA: You were to blame,—I must be plain with you,—
To part so slightly with your wife’s first gift;
A thing stuck on with oaths upon your finger,
And riveted so with faith unto your flesh. 185
I gave my love a ring and made him swear
Never to part with it; and here he stands,
I dare be sworn for him he would not leave it
Nor pluck it from his finger for the wealth
That the world masters. Now, in faith, Gratiano, 190
You give your wife too unkind a cause of grief:
An ’twere to me, I should be mad at it.
BASSANIO: [Aside.] Why, I were best to cut my left hand off,
And swear I lost the ring defending it.
GRATIANO: My Lord Bassanio gave his ring away 195
Unto the judge that begg’d it, and indeed
Deserv’d it too; and then the boy, his clerk,
That took some pains in writing, he begg’d mine;
And neither man nor master would take aught [anything]
But the two rings. 200
PORTIA: What ring gave you, my lord?
Not that, I hope, that you receiv’d of me.
BASSANIO: If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone. 205
PORTIA: Even so void is your false heart of truth.
By heaven, I will ne’er come in your bed
Until I see the ring.
NERISSA: Nor I in yours,
Till I again see mine. 210
BASSANIO: Sweet Portia,
If you did know to whom I gave the ring,
If you did know for whom I gave the ring,
And would conceive [imagine] for what I gave the ring,
And how unwillingly I left the ring, 215
When naught would be accepted but the ring,
You would abate [lessen] the strength of your displeasure.
PORTIA: If you had known the virtue of the ring,
Or half her worthiness that gave the ring,
Or your own honour to contain the ring, 220
[If you . . . contain the ring: If you
had known what that ring meant to me, if you had appreciated even half
the worthiness of me in giving it to you, or if you had regarded
keeping the ring as a point of honor,]
You would not then have parted with the ring.
What man is there so much unreasonable,
If you had pleas’d to have defended it
With any terms of zeal, wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony? 225
[What man . . . ceremony: What man
would have been so unreasonable as to insist on having you give him the
ring if he saw how zealously you defended it? What man would have
lacked the common decency to urge you to keep the ring as a sacred
Nerissa teaches me what to believe:
I’ll die for ’t but some woman had the ring.
BASSANIO: No, by my honour, madam, by my soul,
No woman had it; but a civil doctor [Portia in disguise as a doctor of laws],
Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me, 230
And begg’d the ring, the which I did deny him,
And suffer’d him to go displeas’d away;
Even he that did uphold the very life
Of my dear friend. What should I say, sweet lady?
I was enforc’d [honor-bound] to send it after him; 235
I was beset with shame and courtesy;
My honour would not let ingratitude
So much besmear it. Pardon me, good lady,
For, by these blessed candles of the night,
Had you been there, I think you would have begg’d 240
The ring of me to give the worthy doctor.
PORTIA: Let not that doctor e’er come near my house.
Since he hath got the jewel that I lov’d,
And that which you did swear to keep for me,
I will become as liberal as you; 245
I’ll not deny him anything I have;
No, not my body, nor my husband’s bed.
Know him I shall, I am well sure of it:
Lie not a night from home; watch me like Argus [in Greek mythology, a giant with one hundred eyes]:
If you do not, if I be left alone, 250
Now by mine honour, which is yet mine own,
I’ll have that doctor for my bedfellow.
NERISSA: And I his clerk; therefore be well advis’d
How you do leave me to mine own protection.
[leave . . . protection: Leave me to do as I please]
GRATIANO: Well, do you so: let me not take him, then; 255
For if I do, I’ll mar the young clerk’s pen.
[Well . . . pen: Well, go ahead. But if I catch up with that clerk, I'll break his pen.]
ANTONIO: I am the unhappy subject of these quarrels.
PORTIA: Sir, grieve not you; you are welcome notwithstanding.
BASSANIO: Portia, forgive me this enforced [unavoidable; forced] wrong;
And in the hearing of these many friends, 260
I swear to thee, even by thine own fair eyes,
Wherein I see myself,—
PORTIA: Mark you but that! [Take note of what you say!]
In both my eyes he doubly sees himself;
In each eye, one: swear by your double self, 265
And there’s an oath of credit.
[In both . . . credit: You see an
image of yourself in each of my eyes. Swear by your double-dealing
self, and I'll believe you.]
BASSANIO: Nay, but hear me:
Pardon this fault, and by my soul I swear
I never more will break an oath with thee.
ANTONIO: I once did lend my body for his wealth, 270
Which, but for him that had your husband’s ring,
Had quite miscarried: I dare be bound again,
My soul upon the forfeit, that your lord
Will never more break faith advisedly.
[I once . . . advisedly: I once staked
my life for Bassanio's financial benefit. I would have lost my life if
it had not been for the young man to whom Bassanio gave the ring. I now
stake my very soul on this: that Bassanio will never again willingly
break faith with you.]
PORTIA: Then you shall be his surety. Give him this, 275
[Then . . . surety: Then you shall guarantee his faithfulness.]
And bid him keep it better than the other.
ANTONIO: Here, Lord Bassanio; swear to keep this ring.
BASSANIO: By heaven! it is the same I gave the doctor!
PORTIA: I had it of him: pardon me, Bassanio,
For, by this ring, the doctor lay with me. 280
NERISSA: And pardon me, my gentle Gratiano;
For that same scrubbed boy, the doctor’s clerk,
In lieu of this last night did lie with me.
GRATIANO: Why, this is like the mending of highways
In summer, where the ways are fair enough. 285
[Why, this . . . enough: Why, this is like repairing roads that are already in good condition.]
What! are we cuckolds ere we have deserv’d it?
[What! . . . it: What! Are you
saying that you two slept with these men—Portia with the doctor and
Nerissa with the doctor's clerk?]
PORTIA: Speak not so grossly. You are all amaz’d:
Here is a letter; read it at your leisure;
It comes from Padua, from Bellario:
There you shall find that Portia was the doctor, 290
Nerissa, there, her clerk: Lorenzo here
Shall witness I set forth as soon as you
And even but now return’d; I have not yet
Enter’d my house. Antonio, you are welcome;
And I have better news in store for you 295
Than you expect: unseal this letter soon;
There you shall find three of your argosies
Are richly come to harbour suddenly.
You shall not know by what strange accident
I chanced on this letter. 300
ANTONIO: I am dumb.
BASSANIO: Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
GRATIANO: Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?
[Were . . . cuckold: Were you the clerk that you say you slept with?
NERISSA: Ay; but the clerk that never means to do it,
Unless he live until he be a man. 305
[Ay . . . man: Yes, I am the clerk.
But I will never be unfaithful to you unless I turn into a man (like
the clerk that I was disguised as).]
BASSANIO: Sweet doctor, you shall be my bedfellow:
When I am absent, then, lie with my wife.
ANTONIO: Sweet lady, you have given me life and living;
For here I read for certain that my ships
Are safely come to road. 310
PORTIA: How now, Lorenzo!
My clerk hath some good comforts too for you.
NERISSA: Ay, and I’ll give them him without a fee.
There do I give to you and Jessica,
From the rich Jew, a special deed of gift, 315
After his death, of all he dies possess’d of.
LORENZO: Fair ladies, you drop manna in the way
Of starved people.
[manna: In the Old Testament (Exodus
16:1-36), the food God provided the Israelites during their journey
through the wilderness after Moses led them out of bondage in Egypt.
The term is used figuratively by Lorenzo.]
PORTIA: It is almost morning,
And yet I am sure you are not satisfied 320
Of these events at full. Let us go in;
And charge us there upon inter’gatories,
And we will answer all things faithfully.
[charge us . . . faithfully: Impose on us the duty to answer your questions, and we will do so honestly.]
GRATIANO: Let it be so: the first inter’gatory
That my Nerissa shall be sworn on is, 325
Whe’r till the next night she had rather stay,
Or go to bed now, being two hours to day:
[Whe'r . . . to day: Whether she would rather go to bed tomorrow night or now, being two hours from daybreak]
But were the day come, I should wish it dark,
That I were couching with the doctor’s clerk.
Well, while I live I’ll fear no other thing 330
So sore as keeping safe Nerissa’s ring. [Exeunt.